Executive Director of the Northern Society for Domestic Peace Carol Seychuk holds up application forms for the three grants the agency received. Executive Director of the Northern Society for Domestic Peace Carol Seychuk holds up application forms for the three grants the agency received earlier this year.

Council passes two readings of second-stage housing bylaws

The bylaws, if adopted, will make way for 12 Northern Society for Domestic Peace townhouses

The Northern Society for Domestic Peace (NSDP) is one step closer to its proposed second-stage housing development in Smithers.

The Town has approved the first two readings of two bylaws to amend the Town’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and Zoning bylaw for the proposed location.

The NSDP requested the Town amend the OCP by changing the land use designation of the property from Community/Civic Use to Mixed Residential.

They also asked the Town to approve a zoning amendment to add “transitional housing” to the Public Zone Two (P2) zone and to list the number of parking spaces required as one per every two dwelling units.

Currently the P2 regulations stipulate 1.5 parking spaces per dwelling unit.

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However, in their presentation the representatives from the organization said their experience in running other examples of supportive housing such as the Passage House, also located at the subject property, have made it clear that this much parking is likely not necessary.

“The proposed parking amounts outlined above are also based on years of experience with the transition housing continuum and the observations of NSDP staff and local service providers,” said Julie Hoddinott, who owns a subcontracting business associated with the development.

“It is also important to note that the location of this project in proximity to the downtown core and various amenities and services has influenced this parking calculation, as many residents are likely to travel using public transit, bikes or on foot.”

The NSDP also asked for amendments to the zoning bylaw to state “transitional housing” requires no loading zones if it does not contain a commercial kitchen.

The proposed housing, according to the report presented to the Town, will feature 12 townhouse units with a central courtyard, a residential gathering place and office space.

The development will focus on independent living with a number of services available to residents.

“Support services will be provided on site for the second stage housing, such as counselling and various classes,” the report to council stated.

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The new development would be subdivided from the existing property, which is a requirement of BC Housing according to their funding announcement.

The hope, Hoddinott said, is NSDP can maintain a co-location model between the Passage House and proposed second-stage housing.

The Town must still deliberate on a third reading and adoption of the bylaws at a future council meeting for them to take effect.

The NSDP’s second-stage housing development goes back to October 2018, when the Province’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced funding for second-stage housing units for women and children fleeing violence in Smithers, one of 12 communities in B.C. to receive the funding.

The announcement was the first step in a 10-year, $734-million investment to building 1,500 transition housing, second-stage housing and affordable housing spaces for women and children fleeing violence across the province.

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