LETTER: (Un) Affordable housing in Rossland

By Contributor
August 29th, 2014

On May 27th, 2010 Enbridge Northern Gateway submitted an application to the National Energy Board to build two parallel pipelines each with a length of 1,177 kilometres from Alberta to British Columbia. On June 17, 2014 the Canadian Government accepted the project proposal.

On April 20, 2011 I submitted an application to the city of Rossland to re-zone the old Cook Avenue school site. August 11 , 2014 Rossland’s City Council accepted the project’s proposal but made recommendations which make building affordable housing impossible. To understand this, we have to go back to the beginning.

Previous owners of the Cook Avenue tried for two years to re-zone this site. After strong opposition and impossible conditions, they had to give up. I have also encountered strong opposition from previous city planners. But despite these obstacles, I am moving forward with my re-zoning proposal. This proposal is to build mixed residential, affordable housing for young families, empty nesters and seniors.

The Cook School site has 20 equivalent units and one city counsellor demanded to reduce the site to only 16 units; that leaves 4 equivalent lots undeveloped. Reducing the site by 20% increases the cost of the project by at least 20%, increasing the taxes by 20% (after all, someone has to pay for the empty space).

This decision is against the Rossland Official Community Plan (OCP). Page 5 states, “ OCP must include policies respecting affordable housing, rental housing and special need housing”. Reducing the number of lots goes against the principles stated in the OCP.

The OCP states that it’s important for Rossland to meet their seniors’ housing needs and keep them from relocating to another town. We want to keep our seniors from moving away, but at the same time, we want to attract young families to Rossland. But we can’t do this with expensive houses and high taxes.

When the OCP was written, they foresaw that by 2012 the population of Rossland would grow to 4,623 (page 21). In 2017, the population prediction is 5,055. This increased population would inevitably increase Rossland’s traffic. However, no one requested an engineering study to determine the impact of existing traffic operations. When I applied for rezoning, which would increase the population by about 50 people, the former city planner ordered an engineering study to determine the impact of existing traffic operations which costs taxpayer money. I don’t understand why an engineering study was ordered in my case and not the other.

This development has lots of support in town, including Rossland Chamber of Commerce. We need affordable housing for young families and empty nesters. Without affordable housing, Rossland cannot grow. The high school is already closed as a result of decreasing population. My fear is that decreased population leads to decreased prosperity for our businesses, fellow neighbours and residents. The answer is not increasing taxes, rather we should focus on increasing revenue and this development is one way to increase revenue.

We need to do everything we can to help grow our beloved city, not shrink it. We don’t need another ghost town in British Columbia. If you are young family or empty nester or senior looking for an affordable housing or affordable condo, ask your councillor what he / she thinks about affordable housing in Rossland. We need to take action; if we do not push for change nobody will do it for us. If you curious who is opposite affordable housing in Rossland please see city agenda from 2013-11-04 http://www.rossland.ca/sites/default/files/agenda_cow_november-4-_2013-11-04_0.pdf

Cezary Ksiazek


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