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Tapley's Farm residents given chance to comment

Plans still in the works to move house to Balsam Way for employee housing



Despite concerns from local residents, plans are still underway to move a 1,300 square foot home in Whistler Cay Estates and shunt it up the road to Balsam Way where it will become employee housing.

Though a public hearing isn't required for council to authorize the move (because the Balsam Way land is already zoned residential), they decided on Monday night to hold an information meeting before voting on the proposal. This will give residents a chance to speak out about their concerns.

Councillor Kristi Wells, who pitched the idea for a public meeting, said it would give residents the opportunity to address council in a formalized setting, in much the same way as a public hearing.

Council will now hold public meetings like these as part of the process of acquiring any road end site in the future.

This proposal to put a home on Balsam Way is part of a council initiative to develop odd road ends in the valley for employee housing.

There are two such sites on Balsam Way, which have residents in Tapley's Farm concerned. Specifically the residents are worried about exacerbating the flooding issues in an area prone to flooding.

"We have, as a neighbourhood, sandbagged against flooding to protect our properties (twice in the last year in some cases)," explained resident Rob Sproule in an e-mail to Pique Newsmagazine.

Sproule explained that these undeveloped sites help absorb and hold the floodwaters during a flood event.

The municipality recognized these concerns and hired Golder Associates to provide geotechnical and flood engineering expertise. Golder found that the increased risk of locating two more houses along Balsam Way is minimal.

Municipal staff are not actively proceeding with redevelopment of one road end site but council has given initial approval to move a "tear-down" home in Whistler Cay Estates to the land beside the helicopter park. The finished floor elevation would be 14 inches higher than the neighbouring house.

General Manager of Planning and Development Bob MacPherson said it does not appear that the relocated home would look out of place in the neighbourhood.

This opportunity presented itself when the owners of the 20-year-old home, Marika Koenig and her husband Paul Rawlinson, decided to redevelop their lot, which sits at the bottom of Lorimer Road.

Before tearing down their house and sending the pieces to the landfill, their building designer, Kat Sullivan, recommended they give the WHA a call. The WHA jumped at the chance to reclaim the house for employee housing.

It will cost the WHA $16,000, which is the cost of the permit fees for the owners’ redevelopment of the land, and a further $16,700 to move the house to Balsam Way.

"It's the perfect size for a small single family… looking for restricted housing," said Tim Wake, general manager of the WHA.

Council will make their final decision on the relocation after receiving the results of geotechnical testing and after giving the residents a chance to voice their concerns. To date, all technical information regarding the relocation looks favourable.