New duplex on Black Diamond Drive receives lukewarm approval from council

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
February 23rd, 2012

[CORRECTION: The rezoning was not for a duplex. It was for an R1 Infill zone to permit the subdivision of the lot into two lots, both of which would have a single family home on it.]

Council was evenly split on Feb. 13 regarding a decision to rezone 1794 Black Diamond Drive from a single family residence to a duplex, but they ultimately decided in favour of the rezoning.

The public hearing was attended by only one neighbour. He argued that the house is in poor condition and is owned by an “absentee” landlord who possibly wants “to come in and make a quick buck.” He worried that Rossland is starting a trend of subdivisions. 


“They’re gone,” the neighbour said, “but we’re stuck with the consequences.” Nevertheless, he was not opposed to the rezoning outright and said he was “on the fence” about the issue—as was council.


Coun. Kathy Moore argued that it was a “perfectly acceptable rezoning on a large lot.” She noted that there is a strong demand in the community for smaller homes and that rezoning like this meets a need that is missed by other kinds of development.


Coun. Jill Spearn had visited the “beautiful, treed” lot prior to her decision. She agreed that the “house looks boarded up,” and the landlord may be “absentee,” but said, “those details shouldn’t be what we base our land-use decision on.”


For Spearn and Coun. Kathy Wallace, the issue boiled down to the lot’s location on the periphery of town. Wallace said she was “torn” by the application. “I’m certainly supportive of infill sites using infrastructure that’s already existing,” she said, for example, “infill sites towards the core of the community, near bus routes.”


Spearn agreed. “In certain parts of the city infill works favourably,” she said, resulting in “more affordable housing stock” and “adding to the diversity of Rossland.”


But on the periphery of town, she continued, “we can’t have one rule for Peter and another for Paul,” and noted that there was no “carte blanche” for infill development on the outskirts.


Both Spearn and Wallace voted against the motion, as did Mayor Greg Granstrom who opposed the motion on the basis of “form and character of the community.”


Granstrom said, “Just because the lot is big doesn’t mean it can be subdivided,” and Spearn agreed, “This is not, to my mind, in the flavour of that neighbourhood.”


Coun. Jody Blomme was also torn. “I do believe an owner of the property should be able to decide what they do with their own property. I also believe neighbours should have a say. Sure, the OCP [Official Community Plan] supports it, but to a degree. Generally yes, we want a certain type of infill, but I don’t know about the location.”


Ultimately, Blomme voted in favour alongside Moore and Coun. Cary Fisher.


Fisher said, “I understand the neighbour that came today, I understand his concerns. But even he said he wasn’t sure what side of the fence to go on.” Fisher voted based on city staff’s recommendation that the rezoning was well-supported by the OCP.


The vote was so close that at first Granstrom declared the motion defeated until Spearn called for a recount. Coun. Tim Thatcher—who resides in the neighbourhood—had abstained, and so the issue was decided in favour of the duplex.

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