Nelson Cares’ proposed $11.3 million housing project at 805 Nelson Ave. needed three zoning changes to make the plans work.
City council gave them those changes at its Monday meeting, although the decision still has to go to a public hearing.
Nelson Cares’ executive director Jenny Robinson was pleased by this progress in the project, which aims to provide housing for low income seniors and people with disabilities.
“This has been a long term project, it has been on the books for the community for about ten years and with Nelson Cares for about three years,” she said after the meeting.
The first zoning bylaw change was to allow the building to have four storeys, as opposed to the previous limit of three.
The second was a decrease in the exterior side setback from 4.5 to 2.5 metres.
And the third change saw a decrease in off-street parking requirements from 54 to 19.
The city’s planning manager Pam Mierau told council that the new parking requirement represents 0.4 stalls per unit, a number she says is common across B.C. and in Nelson in similar buildings. She said Anderson Gardens has 3.2 stalls per unit, and Mountain Lakes and Nelson Landing both stand at 0.4.
She said the majority of Nelson Cares tenants do not own vehicles, and that there is provision for 24 long term and 28 short term bike stalls as well as scooter stalls.
The development will provide 47 rental units as well as some commercial space. It replaces 20 units of a former motel from the 1950s owned by Nelson Cares, which will be torn down. Most of the funding will come from BC Housing.
There will be 35 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom units and five studio suites, all ranging in size from 334 to 775 square feet. The first floor will house a seniors centre and resource support facility.
Robinson said much effort has been made to make the building attractive so it will fit in the neighbourhood.
“It will be a beautiful building replacing one that is not,” she said.
The upcoming public hearing, or which a date has not yet been set, will ask the neighbours what they think of the zoning changes. Robinson said Nelson Cares has already consulted many of them with an open house and a neighbourhood walk.
“We made a big effort in the community and the neighborhood to let them know what we were planning and talk to them about their concerns.”
Robinson says the project could break ground this summer. She has no doubt that the housing is needed.
”We have over 120 people on our wait list right now, so we could fill three of those buildings today,” she said.