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New West apartment to convert parking spaces into places for people to live

Council in brief

So long parking spaces and storage, hello homes.

The city received an application from the owner of 520 Eighth St. to replace seven parking spaces and a portion of the building’s resident storage and locker areas with two new studio units and three one-bedroom units. The owner of the building, which currently has 56 units, applied to the city for a housing agreement and development variance permit.

On Jan. 31, council gave three readings to a bylaw that authorizes the city to enter into a housing agreement with the property owner requiring all of the residential units in the building to be secured as market rental housing.

Council also gave notice that it would consider issuance of a development variance permit, which would allow the number of required off-street parking spaces to be reduced by 21% from the standard required for secured market rental in the zoning bylaw.

According to a staff report, the five new units that are being proposed do not require additional parking spaces under the city’s zoning bylaw. With the removal of seven parking spaces to create new rental units, the building would have 49 resident parking spaces and no visitor spaces.

The staff report states that a survey conducted about utilization of parking spaces found that 15 of the existing 56 stalls are assigned to residents, 14 are used by other residents in the neighbourhood and 27 stalls are vacant.

Council also endorsed six long-term bicycle parking spaces and six short-term bicycle parking spaces as part of the development variance permit.

“Given the proximity to transit and similarity of (parking) rates used in the downtown neighbourhood, staff considers the variance for parking to be reasonable when accompanied by a commitment to measures that support active travel,” said a report to council. “Specifically, transportation staff have recommended the provision of six short-term bicycle parking stalls. The applicant has agreed to provide a minimum of six short-term spaces, with the design of these spaces to be reviewed as part of the development permit process.”

According to a staff report, notices will be sent out to surrounding residents so they can provide written feedback, but an “opportunity to be heard” is no longer required at a council meeting.

It’s not the first time the city has received an application to convert parking spaces to residential units at a New West apartment.

In June 2021, council supported a development variance permit (to vary off-street parking) and a housing agreement for a 55-unit rental apartment at 322 Seventh St., where the owner sought to replace nine existing parking spaces with five new studio residential units.