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Press Release Town Advances Implementation of SE Meadowlark Plan
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Press Release - Town Advances Implementation of SE Meadowlark Plan, including for Affordable Housing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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The Town of Osoyoos continues to advance implementation of its Southeast Meadowlark Area Plan, including laying the groundwork for developers to include some affordable housing in their residential developments. The Plan covers a 40-acre area bound by 74th Avenue, Highway 97, 62nd Avenue and Meadowlark Drive, and was prepared in-house by Town staff with input from local residents. After an open house and a public hearing, Council adopted the plan as a schedule to our Official Community Plan in April 2010.
The Area Plan promotes an orderly transition to more urban land uses, including meeting demands for medium-density housing and reserving 15 per cent of residential units for affordable housing as a condition of each rezoning. The Plan also includes a site for a new Town fire hall. Local landowners have control over when they choose to open up their property for development. The maximum build-out will reach approximately about 270 residential units, of which 40 will be for affordable housing. In keeping with Council’s Affordable Housing Policies these affordable units will be targeted to moderate-income working households and especially younger families. This will encourage younger families to put down roots in our community and contribute to economic growth. “Implementation of the Plan will contribute to Osoyoos’ future as an economic, social and environmentally sustainable community”, says Alain Cunningham, Director of Planning and Development Services.
Most of Southeast Meadowlark is currently in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Consequently, one of the first hurdles to overcome was obtaining permission from the Agricultural Land Commission to allow development. After another public hearing the Town attached their Area Plan to a successful application to the Commission, who agreed to exclude properties from the ALR according to a “staged process”. The Commission will first check each rezoning application for conformity with key policies in the Area Plan. All property owners within the area were provided with copies of the Commission’s agreement.
For the next step of the Area Plan implementation process, the Town successfully obtained funding support from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for DiStefano Architecture consultants to prepare Unifying Architectural and Urban Design Guidelines and Innovative Housing Models. This will ensure optimum use of the Meadowlark area with compatible development patterns and a consistent building theme. Draft designs were discussed at a housing symposium attended by members of council together with federal, provincial and local, affordable housing experts. Local residents were invited to a special open house to give their feedback. This phase of the Area Plan has now been completed and the exciting urban design concepts for the area can be accessed on the Town’s web site at www.osoyoos.ca.
As can be seen from the urban design concepts, a broad range of housing styles are imaginatively integrated together, including narrow-lot single family homes, duplexes, fourplexes, row housing, low-rise apartments, secondary suites and carriage houses to provide choices for all needs. Two optional site plans each contain five housing “precincts” (A, B, C, D, and E) which, if needed, can be mixed and matched from one option to the other to suit market conditions at the time. A unifying architectural theme is maintained throughout modeled after the Town’s long standing, dry climate façade guidelines. All “affordable” units will look the same as “market” units. The existing pond in the middle of the area is to be enhanced as a natural hub with linking pathways. Recommendations are also included for “green” building concepts and alternative energy systems. Mayor Wells says “this is an exciting vision of how an important area of our Town can develop as a showpiece for urban living”.
The next step is to translate the general urban design concepts into a new zone for mixed residential uses with accompanying development permit area guidelines. These requirements will be applied to each development application as it comes forward. Again, the Town was successful in obtaining CMHC funding support and the consultants will complete this phase early in 2012.
The first lands to be developed will probably be in the Town-owned “Richter property” located towards the northeast corner of the area. A site has already been excluded from the ALR and subdivided for the new Town Fire Hall on 74th Avenue with ready access to Highway No. 97. Architects are being hired to prepare a facility pre-design with programming and cost options for Council consideration by next spring. The remainder of the property constitutes housing precinct ‘A’ and can accommodate up to 40 residences, of which 6 will be affordable units. These lands will be offered for sale to a qualified developer who will pay sufficient monies for the right to develop the land, provide the required affordable housing, and meet the Town’s design standards. The selected developer would be assisted with incentives determined by Council at the time, such as reductions in fees and development cost charges. Depending upon the state of the market, the lands could be offered up sometime in 2012.
The Town of Osoyoos is a vibrant community of approximately 5,000 people at the crossroads of Highways 3 and 97 in the South Okanagan Valley, near the U.S. border. It has a unique desert environment, the nation’s warmest lake and climate, and is home to thriving fruit orchards, vineyards, wineries, golf courses, year-round tourism facilities, and many small businesses. Osoyoos offers “Canada’s Warmest Welcome”.
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