Sixplex success, for some

Concerns about increased traffic, noise and crime weren't enough to convince councillors that a controversial sixplex shouldn't be built in Porter Creek. The sixplex debate first cropped up in the summer.

Concerns about increased traffic, noise and crime weren’t enough to convince councillors that a controversial sixplex shouldn’t be built in Porter Creek.

The sixplex debate first cropped up in the summer.

That’s when hotel owner and developer Craig Tuton proposed building a sixplex on an empty lot at the corner of 12th Avenue and Elm Street.

The lot – covered in garbage and junk scraps – is an eyesore, say councillors.

But residents still clamoured loudly at the idea of a new building being squeezed in next to them.

The building would decrease the value of nearby homes, increase traffic and bring in unsavoury characters, residents complained.

About a month ago, they held a public meeting on the issue.

“No one in the neighbourhood wants this development,” said resident Cam Kos.

But councillors don’t understand how the issue became so hotly contested.

The development will have a minor impact on the community, said councillor Dave Stockdale.

“There’s been more consultation on this property than I’ve ever spent on any other property in this town,” he said.

“I think a development there would be a real asset.”

Council faced a hostile group of Porter Creek residents who kept jeering at councillors throughout Monday’s meeting.

Voting down the sixplex would be against the Official Community Plan’s vision to densify the city, said councillor Doug Graham.

It would also mean badly needed housing wouldn’t get built.

Faced with a housing crunch and vacancy rates of less than one per cent, it was hard for councillors to say no to the project.

“I think it’s a reasonable request,” said councillor Florence Roberts.

“We’ll get six new families in there.”

But word of a housing shortage didn’t persuade residents.

“This is not the type of affordable housing they’re looking for,” said Kos, pointing out the $1,300 to $1,500 price tag for the rental suites.

Ron Swizdaryk thinks there’s other places the rental suites should be built.

And both complain that the city’s public hearing process is a “farce.”

“The whole idea of city council listening to the public is out the window,” said Kos.

“Councillor Betty Irwin is the only one with the gumption to attend our meeting. The other councillors didn’t, and said they didn’t have the time to attend.”

The housing development was passed four to one; Irwin was the only councillor who voted against the sixplex.

With a green light to develop, Tuton said he’ll start construction in the spring.

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