Developers of a proposed seniors housing facility on Range Road are asking Whitehorse city council for a zoning amendment that would allow for less parking and a boundary realignment.
The proposal came forward to council at its Nov. 18 meeting with project proponent David Borud detailing the plans and explaining why the zoning changes are being sought.
The plans would first see a five-storey, 84-unit building at 468 Range Rd. that would feature a commercial kitchen, courtyard and space for on-site services for seniors living there.
Borud argued there’s currently a gap in the seniors housing market for those who may no longer want or be unable to keep up with the demands of their own home, but are not ready for continuing care. The new building would provide assisted living services, where seniors could continue to live independently in their own units with some services provided. Future expansion of the development would see a four-storey independent living seniors apartment building.
Speaking first to the request for the parking requirement to decrease from one parking space for every two units to one parking space for every four units, Borud explained that many of the building’s tenants are not likely to be driving and therefore the building will not need the number of parking spaces required under the current zoning.
Borud was also quick to note the facility will be on a transit route.
In a report to council on the request, city planning manager Mélodie Simard also highlighted transit options with the site 150 m from a transit stop (though the city will be looking at the transit system next year which could lead to changes to some stops) and also highlighted the handy bus and other private transportation options residents may choose.
“Increasing density near services/transit/major transportation connections is consistent with sustainable planning practice,” she said. “More people living in an area increase viability of commercial operations and municipal transit service. The OCP (Official Community Plan) states that the city shall promote a compact development pattern orientated towards transit and active transportation. Given the close proximity of this site to downtown and the ease of access to public service, applying the downtown parking requirement to this site can be justified.”
For this project, developers are asking the city to amend the zoning to be in line with downtown parking requirements for supportive living faculties.
The parking proposal, however, raised some questions for Coun. Jan Stick, who pointed out the facility would likely have a number of staff working in areas like the kitchen and noted the possibility of home-care workers coming in to help out some residents who could need parking.
That had her questioning whether one spot for every four units (21 parking spots in total if the development goes ahead as planned) would be enough to accommodate those working at the building and what alternatives there would be if no on-site parking was available. Simard responded that typically when no on-site parking is available, drivers park on adjacent streets.
Simard also said she looked at other areas and learned the one parking spot per four units is more parking than similar facilities have elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, after purchasing both 468 Range Rd. and 25 Rhine Way behind it, Borud said a boundary realignment to increase the Range Road lot from its current 3,708 square meters to 4,265 square metres into a portion of the Rhine Way property is being put forward to make room for parking, waste receptacles, a green energy generation plant for the development and propane tanks.
Coun. Dan Boyd declared a conflict on the issue and left the room during Borud’s presentation and discussion on the request.
Members will vote on first reading of the proposed changes Nov. 25. If first reading is approved a public hearing will be held Jan. 13 and a report on the hearing would be presented at council’s Feb. 3 meeting with second and third reading being voted on Feb. 10.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org