Both opposition and support were expressed for the proposed rezoning of a restricted residential property on 14th Avenue during a public hearing at Whitehorse city council’s Aug. 10 meeting.
Benita and Keith Parkkari, the owners of 39 14th Ave., have applied for rezoning to allow for a living suite inside the home.
Under the restricted residential zoning, living suites are not permitted. The issue continues to be brought forward to the city, coming up in previous applications in 2014, 2018 and also explored in a survey in 2016.
When council passed first reading of the most recent application for the change to the 14th Avenue property, a number of members were clear they voted in favour of the first reading to get to the public hearing to find out what residents thought of the possibility.
While the city received just three submissions for the public hearing on the project, the one submission expressing opposition had signatures from four neighbours attached.
It is signed by Mike and Kimberley Henney, Ken Watson, Brad Geier and Jodi Birmingham and Vic and Linda Enders.
They argue the owners of 39 14th Ave. should have been aware of the zoning restrictions in place and point out there are already a number of vehicles nearby on the street.
“With the addition of a ‘living suite’, parking of additional vehicles on the street will impact visibility and thereby the safety of the neighbourhood children,” the submission reads. “Students attending Jack Holland Elementary School and Porter Creek High School as well as the school buses use 14th Avenue as a means to travel.”
The Parkkaris noted in their own submission to council they have had two adult children at home until recently (one who still currently lives there) and occasionally vehicles have been parked on the street for a short period.
“Vehicles have not, and will not be parked on the street for long periods of time,” they wrote. “The sidewalk along 14th Avenue is on the opposite side of the street. Having a vehicle parked occasionally on the street, even if it is overnight does not create a risk to children walking to Jack Hulland School, Porter Creek High School or people walking or driving in the neighbourhood generally.”
The submission opposing the rezoning also cites issues with access to a shop on the property being over a city utility.
In their own submission to council, the Parkkaris noted the shop was built with the proper permits as well as inspections and approvals being in place. Both the house and the shop meet all zoning requirements, they wrote, acknowledging they do use the easement to access the shop.
“If the utility easement is blocked off we can access the back of our property through our lot,” they stated. “The shop was built with this in mind.”
In stating their opposition to the rezoning, the owners of the neighbouring properties also highlighted the history of the area, pointing out the city turned down a request in 2014 from the owners of 37 14th Ave. next door as it was seen to contravene the planning process for the infill lots that were added to the area in 2011.
The Parkkaris also pointed to other aspects of the area, including that the property to the east of theirs has been subdivided to allow for duplex development. Another property across the street is zoned as residential single, which could allow for triplex housing and there is a bed and breakfast nearby.
Throughout their submission, they also note the city’s move to encourage higher density developments and the need for more housing.
“The restrictions of (restricted residential) zoning are not consistent with the city’s current planning and land use approach,” they wrote.
Another neighbour — the current owner of 37 14th Ave. (who did not own it in 2014) — also provided a submission supporting the rezoning, stating they have no issue with a living suite being permitted.
“The proposed bylaw will support housing affordability in the longer term and aging in place in the shorter term,” the new owner wrote. “We have no concerns regarding traffic issues, parking issues, or negative impact on property values.”
The owner of 37 14th Ave. also pointed out that council’s philosophy and housing best practices may have changed since 2014 when the matter was last considered for the area.
A report on the public hearing will come forward in September ahead of second and third reading.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org