This summer’s growing season has been a great one as Councillor Donna Macdonald’s corn can attest.

Summer delights and decisions in Nelson

What a beautiful summer we’re having. Just the right mix of warmth and sunshine, with some refreshing rain tossed in.

What a beautiful summer we’re having. Just the right mix of warmth and sunshine, with some refreshing rain tossed in. Usually by now we’re breathing smoky air from forest fires near and far, so the clean air is a blessing.

And what a summer for gardening. All the gardeners I speak to are boasting of bumper vegetable crops and luscious floral displays. It’s one of those growing seasons when I think I can literally watch my corn grow, while dreaming of those sweet buttery cobs just weeks away.

This summer has also brought a bumper crop of public events. ArtWalk’s two opening nights were wonderful, with an expanded cultural harvest. The two MarketFests and the Wednesday markets are popular and lively. Cyswog ‘n’ Fun brought active fun-seekers to town, as did the Ultimate Frisbee tournament. And the airport open house brought pilots and plane-lovers together.

And of course, many private events are also happening. Congratulations go out to our city manager Kevin Cormack who’ll be tying the knot this week-end with Allison Alder at beautiful Gyro Park.

Amidst all this fun, celebration and recreation, the work of the City goes on. I must say that, for council, it’s been an unusually quiet summer. I’m loving the fact my to-do list only has three items on it!

However, at our last council meeting we did tackle two challenging requests for variance permits (those are needed when sizes or setbacks don’t meet the terms of the zoning bylaw). I’m sure council’s decision to not approve those requests was very disappointing for the proponents, puzzling for some neighbours and a huge relief for others.

One request was to build a two-storey addition on top of an existing garage behind a home on Hoover Street. It was a lovely design and the overall plan had many “green” features, such as on-site stormwater management, energy efficient design, etc.

Laneway housing is a growing trend in cities, as it allows for creation of small residential units that can help address the affordable housing issue.  In Nelson, our planning staff is currently developing guidelines for height, square footage, parking, etc.

In the absence of those guidelines, the applications coming to council are test cases as we discern what makes sense in Nelson. In the case above, the variance would have resulted in a very tall building (10 metres) that encroached very close to the neighbouring property.

Council considered the merits of the proposal, along with neighbours’ concerns, and decided it was just not a good fit, because the visual, privacy and shading impacts on neighbours would be too great. The proposal, despite all its good points, did not achieve the “gentle or hidden” density that laneway housing should provide.

The other variance request was for a property on Front Street, behind 7-Eleven. To block the lights and noise of the store, the new owners of this home wanted to construct a 6.6-metre-high building across the front of their property, only a metre from the lot line and on top of the existing metre-high retaining wall.

Again, the proposal had many merits and the proposed building was beautifully designed. However, one factor council considers for any such variance is how it complements the streetscape. The homes along that block are set back, to overlook the lake, and have large front gardens and landscaping. Situating an accessory building close to the front property line would create a barrier that does not complement the streetscape.

I believe we want our neighbourhoods to be safe and welcoming, with a feeling of community. We don’t want homes surrounded by tall walls and fences, or other barriers.

If you buy a home across from a store you should expect some impacts, but the homeowners have some legitimate concerns. The city successfully dealt with similar issues years ago, and it’s clearly time to review those agreements with 7-Eleven.

And now, I have some corn to watch.

 

Donna Macdonald is a Nelson city councillor who shares this space with her colleagues around the table

 

Just Posted

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

LETTERS: In support of student climate strikers

From readers Tia Leschke and Sharon Inkpen

Kootenay Musical Theatre Society ready to make a deal with the Devil

The new group will put on an original show in October at the Capitol Theatre

Nelson councillor starts national municipal climate group

Climate Leadership Caucus has 57 members including seven mayors

RDCK to purchase portion of lands around Cottonwood Lake

21.6 hectares will be purchased for $450,000

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Rural Kootenay communities to receive high-speed internet upgrade

The provincial government is increasing internet connectivity to rural British Columbia

Most Read