Nanaimo will be getting more than 50 new units of affordable seniors’ housing close to downtown.
City council approved a development permit Monday for a 57-unit apartment building at 20 Prideaux St., a Mount Benson Seniors Housing Society project.
“They have a long history of providing affordable seniors’ housing so we’re excited about this project,” said Dale Lindsay, city director of community development.
For the proposal to go ahead, council was asked to allow a height variance and a parking variance from 57 stalls to 17 stalls.
“That neighbourhood has limited parking already and a lot of seniors do drive and they continue to drive,” said Coun. Sheryl Armstrong.
Coun. Ian Thorpe had similar concerns.
“I think [seniors’ housing] is needed; I think it’s a great project, but I’m really having trouble getting past the parking … I just can’t see it as being adequate,” he said.
A staff report noted that the seniors’ housing society advised the city that “based on their observations of similar existing developments, it is anticipated that the number of seniors that own a car will be less than 30 per cent.”
Coun. Jerry Hong said regarding parking, the seniors’ housing association knows its clients better than city councillors do.
Coun. Diane Brennan pointed out that the building is close to public transit and she said expanding parking could negatively impact affordability.
A representative of strata council from the building next door asked council to delay the development permit, because a structural wall at the property line needs repairs and needs to remain accessible. Lindsay told council that that concern should be considered separately from the development permit application, which he said related to the form and character of the building.
“I’m confident that we can work with the property owners and work towards an agreement, if not a reciprocal easement of some sort,” he said, adding that “right-of-way agreements” are relatively common.
The new building will be four storeys high. All 57 units will be one-bedroom aparments measuring 550 square feet.
Council voted to issue the development permit, with councillors Armstrong and Thorpe opposed and councillors Jim Kipp and Gord Fuller absent.