What is the definition of family friendly when it pertains to family living?
That was a question city council debated as it considered a development permit application for a three-storey townhouse project.
The eight-unit market project at the corner of Raymer Avenue and Richter Street includes six two-bedroom units and two that include three bedrooms.
But with the restrictions imposed by the size of the lot, council was told the developer was not able to provide much in the way of green space or a playground.
“The proposal says it’s a family friendly project but there is not much space outside,” stated Coun. Rick Webber.
“There is a lack of green on this property. There isn’t any,” countered Coun. Charlie Hodge.
“Is it good for children? I would say no it isn’t.”
Planner Tyler Caswell told council the city’s family friendly policy speaks more to bedroom numbers as opposed to amenity space. Two or more units consisting of three or more bedrooms is considered family friendly.
Planning director Ryan Smith pointed out the development is less than 100 metres from Osprey Park which has a playground and ball diamond, Raymer Elementary with another playground is in close proximity as are two daycares.
“I am on record, and will continue to be, that if it’s OK there is no green space because there is a park down the street just doesn’t cut it for me. That’s an easy way out,” said Hodge.
“A development should stand on its own and shouldn’t count on the park across the street. I am disappointed with the project.”
There were also concerns about a perceived lack of parking with just one stall per unit and one visitor stall.
“The proposal does meet our standards,” said Caswell.
“In urban centres the standard is lower. It’s a more walkable and bikable area.”
Coun. Luke Stack countered saying people with children would be “absolutely thrilled” to be kitty-corner to Raymer Elementary and just four lots from Osprey Park.
As a council, he said, there should be a philosophical discussion around the issue of green space since it continues to come up.
“This is a town centre, how do people access green space because that is what we are talking about,” said Stack.
“Either we are going to force people to put more green space and increase the cost of these types of housing units, or we will come up with a town centre policy much like we have today.”
“I will support this but it does beg the question to have that discussion because it is going to affect the way our city grows if we insist people keep yards with houses.”
For him, Coun. Loyal Wooldridge says families and children want a home first and foremost. He says council can talk about reducing the number of units, but it’s going to increase the housing cost.
“If we want to start moving the goalposts with those directives, then we are just going to increase the cost of housing. As long as we can stand in front of the TV camera and say that’s what we would prefer is the higher cost of housing, then that’s what we can do,” said Wooldridge.
“It’s a little bit frustrating for me when we are hinging on our own perspective around what we think people want to live in when most of us in this room have a house and what I hear most residents that don’t or that are renting and would like to purchase is they would like a home with the right amount of bedrooms to support their families.”
Despite their reservations, council unanimously voted to approve the development permit for the project.