Sechelt council has given first reading to the Lions Housing Society’s expansion plan for Greenecourt, its affordable housing complex in Sechelt.
The Lions need both a zoning and Official Community Plan amendment to go forward with the project, which would replace the remaining bungalow units with a five-storey apartment building with 104 residential units, an office, laundry room and meeting hall.
Debbie Ferguson, chair of the building committee for the Lions Housing Society, made a presentation before the vote, covering the history of the Greenecourt site and some of the committee’s design choices.
Ferguson said they want to get as many units as possible on the site, while creating a village feel. “It’s been very carefully calculated to maximize the space available to us for building while maintaining green space, traffic and fire safety routes, walkability for the tenants and parking,” Ferguson said, adding that maximizing the number of units was also the main reason the plan calls for demolishing the existing Lions Hall and replacing it with a smaller meeting space in the new Arbutus Building.
“It’s important to the Society that we cultivate a village culture for our senior tenants. All of the buildings will have main entrances facing into the centre of the complex, where the main green space will also be situated… We believe seniors who feel vulnerable will feel more secure within a village style complex.”
Coun. Darren Inkster raised an issue that has been a concern for some councillors in the past when considering projects with age restrictions, asking Ferguson if the Lions would ever consider opening Greenecourt to tenants under 55.
Ferguson said the only exception would be under the agreement the Society has with the Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living (SCACL) to administer six suites in partnership, but she added that given the fact SCACL has several clients over 55-years-old, “We would like to place them first in the complex.”
In her report to council director of planning Tracy Corbett described the project as compact and well located with respect to services, and filling a need for affordable seniors housing.
Coun. Darnelda Siegers raised the possibility of waiving or reducing development cost charges for the project. Corbett responded that it was possible if the project was under a housing agreement with the district.
The zoning and OCP amendments will now go to public hearing on September 25 at 7:00 p.m.