Kananaskis Way residents, vacation rental owners concerned over parking

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A proposed spot zoning along Kananaskis Way to pave the way forward for a rental apartment development has residents and vacation rental owners in the neighbourhood worried about parking.

Winnipeg-based Sunstone Resort Communities has proposed a direct control district for lots 120 and 130 Kananaskis Way, which is a rezoning application and amendment to the Bow Valley Trail Area Redevelopment Plan.

Rezoning would change requirements currently in place for the parcel of land that requires any development to include commercial on the ground floor, and would reduce the amount of parking stalls required to 161 for a building with 155 potential units.

According to Town development planner Marcus Henry, the parking requirements set out in the direct control district would equal 1.03 stalls per unit, with 160 bicycle parking stalls also proposed.

“We are only at the land use stage, so the site plan is still conceptual right now,” Henry said. “There is almost no capacity for additional parking on this site.”

The role of the parking reduction in the proposed zoning is tied to a concern that once approved or built, the developers or owners of the building would turn around and sell off units as condominium properties.

In order to achieve that result, zoning would require additional parking be provided and the fact it cannot be easily done within the constraints of the site provides some guarantee for council that what would result from approval would be rental housing.

“If a change was sought, it would have to come back to council to amend that requirement or grant a variance,” Henry said.

The public hearing saw several residents, as well as owners of vacation rental properties in nearby visitor accommodation buildings like Mystic Springs, express concern over parking in the neighbourhood.

Donna Scott, who owns two units of vacation rentals next door, opposed the application in front of council.

She said she purchased her visitor accommodation units in 2003 and they would be directly affected by the development next door.

“My concern is parking, “ Scott said. “Parking on Kananaskis Way, starting at the Chrysler dealership, has degraded steadily over the years I have had my condos at Mystic Springs.”

She said visitor accommodation developments in the neighbourhood were approved with one stall per unit in the past and it has constrained the entire area.

“I am renting to vacationers that come as families and they drive more than one vehicle to stay,” she said. “This summer in particular they could not find parking on Kananaskis Way.

“What does the Town plan to do to alleviate this parking problem on Kananaskis Way?”

Michael Klein, a resident of Windtower Lodge, which is mixed visitor accommodation and residential, said he supports the addition of rental housing to the community, but remains concerned, like many residents in the neighbourhood, about parking.

“I think this is a great development and we do need more rental housing, but again the parking situation (is a concern),” Klein said.

Highwood Village along Kananaskis Way is also adjacent to the proposed development. Residential tenant Jean Bailey expressed her concerns to council that parking access to her building would be affected.

“We need access to our parking and quite literally, as things stand now, people are parking across our driveway entrances,” Bailey said. “I am sure they don’t mean to do it, but they do.

“We are overburdened with parking.”

Jean Hartwell said Kananaskis Way is becoming one of the most densely populated areas in the community and with that comes traffic and parking issues that need to be addressed.

Doug Protz spoke in favour of the project, saying the location is well suited to a higher density apartment building.

“Personally, I think we need something like this in town,” he said. “As for the height relaxation, I think it is a decent spot for something like this.”

Kristi Beunder with Civic Works, which is working on the project with Sunstone, said during her overview of the application that the intent is to see rental housing be developed, which includes a 10 per cent requirement for employee housing in the building.

“Essentially, what we are going to talk about here is addressing a housing need with market rental accommodation and why this site is good for that,” she said.

Beunder also spoke to the fact the proposed maximum height for the district would allow a five-storey building, at 21 metres versus the current 16 metres (four storeys) allowed.

The added height and parking were not the only changes proposed, as the site location is inside the Bow Valley Trail district. The area redevelopment plan that overlays the district requires the ground floor level to have commercial space.

Beunder said the location of the property along Kananaskis Way makes it impractical to include commercial space due to the lack of direct access to the site.

“There is no direct frontage, we have accessory frontage at best,” she said. “We are looking to have residential units on the ground floor without commercial.

“We are not a traffic attracting area, we would rather see less traffic, and less parking being drawn into this corner.”

Councillor Joanna McCallum suggested the property owner and designers consider space on the ground floor level for a possible childcare facility.

Sunstone CEO Bill Coady said that has not been considered as part of the discussion, but that it would still be possible to have home occupations.

“At a certain point we talked about accommodating commercial, but it seemed to complicate the application,” he said.

Second and third reading of the bylaws are expected to return to council for approval in the near future.

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