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Rezoning paves way for potential Canmore Community Housing units

“To me, this is a wise use of space. I look forward to more vital homes.”

CANMORE – A Canmore Community Housing-led affordable housing project cleared a rezoning hurdle to continue moving forward.

Canmore council gave second and third readings for a land use bylaw amendment for 205 Stewart Creek Rise after a public hearing was held at its Sept. 5 meeting.

The CCH project has a potential 18 units at the site, with the conceptual design for a townhome layout with 11 three-bedroom and seven two-bedroom units.

“It fits the neighbourhood. … It’s an odd-shaped lot, so the consolidation of the two lots makes sense to allow more units to be built appropriately on that space,” said Coun. Jeff Hilstad.

“To me, this is a wise use of space. I look forward to more vital homes.”

The decision allows for an oddly shaped vacant parcel of land in the Three Sisters area redesignated from supporting public use and residential multi-unit district to a residential family low-density district.

The intent from CCH is to have construction begin in 2024.

If the conceptual design went forward, there would be 33 parking stalls, including three for visitors.

“I believe this rezoning … is well in line with the other land use zonings currently available in that district,” Coun. Tanya Foubert said. “For this to lead to community housing is an excellent use of the site.”

A stakeholder notice was sent out by the Town to landowners within 60 metres of the site, which led to six letters prior to first reading calling for the land to remain open space and voicing concerns over a potential increase in traffic

Among the concerns were having the land remain as open space and the potential increase in traffic.

There were four submissions received from the public, with two in favour and two against.

Genya Hyrina, a landowner on Three Sisters Parkway, was stronghly opposed to the rezoning due to the loss of green space and traffic congestion.

“This unexpected rezoning request from Canmore Community Housing is attempting to put too much into a relatively small tract of land and will cause traffic and safety problems and permanently damage the lifestyle of the residents, which could have enjoyed the green space for years to come,” states the letter.

Another Three Sisters Parkway resident, Sean Cavanagh, objected to the rezoning due to concerns for safety, added congestion and the loss of green space.

“When the area owners purchased or built their homes, zoning was the status quo,” Cavanagh wrote. “Changing to a higher density zone with so many units, no parking, no sidewalks in the alleyway and low-income housing was not part of the plan and not a consideration of (the) risk of devaluation.”

A brief letter of support from Lawrence Hill, the owner of Hillcroft Developments Ltd., said he was “definitely in favour” of rezoning to help with the creation of more CCH units.

CCH board member Todd Kunst wrote in support that combining the parcels of land would “maximize the number of vital homes that can be realized.”

He noted the CCH proposal for building townhomes on the lot will assist with much-needed housing in the community.

“Given where we are at in the housing crisis in Canmore and across the country, the value in creating a broad spectrum of different housing types in our community with price and resident restrictions attached to these vital home units will help future-proof our communities housing stock from market forces.”

CCH bought the land from the Town in 2019, with the intent of building housing on the site.

Coun. Joanna McCallum, who was on council at the time, said the intent was always for CCH to decide what was best for the land, whether it be to build homes or sell it to have money for other lands in the municipality.

“I’m a fan of putting all kinds of housing in all kinds of residential neighbourhoods, so I’m happy to see this come forward,” she said.

As of the end of June, CCH has an inventory of 162 affordable homes for ownership and 158 in its rental program.

The project aligns with the Stewart Creek area structure plan, which supports residential development.

“I think this has a lot of community benefit to match zoning around in order for CCH to proceed with a development on the land,” said Mayor Sean Krausert.