Residents, developer squabble over metres

A divisive battle between Takhini West residents and developer Wayne Cunningham boils down to a fight over 2.5 metres of sky.

A divisive battle between Takhini West residents and developer Wayne Cunningham boils down to a fight over 2.5 metres of sky.

And neither side wants to budge a centimetre.

Cunningham, of Kareway Homes, wants council to rezone a lot at 26 Normandy Road to allow for two, three-storey condo buildings.

Those 10.5-metre buildings would block the sun and cast shadows over neighbourhood houses, argue residents.

However, houses and duplexes in the subdivision already stand more than eight metres high.

So the new condo development will be 2.5 metres taller.

And that’s 2.5 metres too tall for some Takhini West residents, who will support the development only if it’s restricted to two-storeys.

“It would be quite a big difference,” said Takhini resident Spence Rich after Monday’s meeting.

The third storey would allow a clear view into the private gardens and backyards of nearby homes; the extra height would block sunlight and, eventually, affect neighbourhood property values, said Rich.

There’s been friction ever since the developer proposed the condo project last fall.

In October 2005, council nixed Cunningham’s first application to build 32 units on the former Parks Canada site after many residents voiced concern.

During meetings held over the winter, neighbourhood residents and the would-be developers compromised and came to an agreement on everything except the building’s height.

This week, Cunningham brought a smaller 20-unit plan back for council approval.

And, once again, Takhini residents are crying foul.

But it’s hard to imagine how the buildings, which sit 24 metres from any existing residence, would affect the neighbourhood, said Cunningham.

Each condo unit would have its own parking space in a garage on the building’s first storey, which will keep cars off the already crowded neighbourhood streets.

Above the garage would sit two floors of 108-square-metre two-bedroom apartments.

“I listened to all the issues they had and the only one I couldn’t accommodate was the two-storeys,” said Cunningham.

But losing a storey means losing 10 units because Cunningham is running out of space on the lot.

City regulations dictate that the building can only cover 45 per cent of the lot and 40 per cent of the property must be amenity space — for things like decks, grass and garbage collection.

And, developing a 10-unit building just isn’t worth it, said Cunningham.

So the developer and residents remain at an impasse.

“This is a textbook case on how not to proceed with a controversial development,” said councillor Doug Graham.

“It’s hard to blame any one individual or group; it’s been a series of misunderstandings.”

While Graham proposed sending the squabblers back into negotiations, other councillors disagreed.

“I don’t believe we’re ever going to get agreement with all the residents in that area,” said councillor Bev Buckway casting her vote for the development.

“I think the developer has compromised a great deal; he was pretty much run out of town the first time, but he came back with a proposal that incorporates residents’ concerns.”

Cunningham hopes to break ground on the condos in July; he’ll put up one building this year and the second in 2007.

Meanwhile, Takhini residents plan to be back in council in two weeks, fighting the three-storey structure every step of the way.