A new low-rise apartment complex that will provide micro-suites for seniors in the downtown area was given swift approval by council Monday night.
The unanimous vote came despite concerns raised earlier in the evening during a public hearing.
A handful of people spoke against the proposal, citing parking problems, safety issues and the small size of the planned apartments.
Usually, when negative comments are raised at a public hearing, a vote is postponed for two weeks to allow council to consider the objections. However, new Mayor Bruce Banman said council felt the project should move forward.
“Basically it was based on need, more than anything else. We are going to be up 24 affordable suites on this deal overall.”
The proposal calls for two rental apartment buildings to be built on Braun Avenue, just off McCallum Road, in the downtown area. Each building will contain 32 micro-suites, consisting of about 280 square feet of living space, providing low-income housing for seniors. The suites are furnished and rent would be no more than $480.
The project is being constructed for the Lynnhaven Society. The society’s current facility, located on Lynn Avenue, was built in the 1950s and designed to supply housing for veterans. As the years passed, other seniors were welcomed into the homes. However, now 60 years old, the buildings are in rough shape and will likely be torn down in the near future.
Many of the seniors have voiced their wish to stay in the older facility. Residents have the option to move into the new micro-suites, or seek other options.
One of the main concerns raised at the public hearing was about the location. The street is close to Jubilee Park, which has a history of criminal activity, as does the surrounding neighbourhood.
“The foolishness of placing 30, 40, 50 seniors in that area is, well, it would be bad,” said Ward Draper of the 5 and 2 Ministry. He works in the area.
“What’s going to happen if you do do that, where is that demographic that is already living there going to go … I go up and down ‘crack alley’ every day. Do you want seniors right there? We have stacks of needles, we have active prostitution in that alley. We have drug dealing going on,” he said.
But Banman feels the new construction could alleviate those problems.
“There are some concerns, but basically by the time the construction goes into place I think a lot of the concerns in that neighbourhood, the crime, is basically going to disappear.
“They’ve got approximately a year to deal with that and I think it’s the first of many in revitalizing that core.”
He said as the area develops, people will see all of downtown begin to revitalize.
“While this is not ideal, it provides options for people who are on the lowest margin of our community.”