Peachland planners take issue with lowering building heights along Beach Avenue

Beach Ave height at issue

How high is too high along Beach Avenue in Peachland has been a bone of contention within the community for quite some time.

Building heights along the municipality's downtown street came to a head in 2017 when the council of the day changed the Official Community Plan to allow for building heights of five storeys to allow for a planned mixed-use development to go ahead.

Peachland's new mayor, Patrick Van Minsel let it be known at the inaugural meeting he wanted staff to prepare zoning options in order to limit building heights to three storeys.

In a report for this week's council meeting laying out several options, planning staff concluded any options to reduce the building height along Beach Avenue from five to three storeys could be detrimental to the growth of Peachland.

Staff state the Beach Avenue neighbourhood is "fully serviced with existing infrastructure."

"Densification in this area should be encouraged as it is more financially sustainable to focus development in core areas."

Planners say the alternative, hillside development and sprawl, does not make financial sense, saying providing services to those areas do not pay for itself.

"Taxpayers must subsidize those costs, which is not financially prudent.

"At the same time, increased density (downtown) also increases municipal revenues through taxation, development cost charges, community amenity contributions and other development fees."

Increased residential density, the report states, also bolsters local businesses and creates a more vibrant downtown area.

The report concludes reducing building heights also decreases the overall buildable area, partially because at grade or in-structure parking is required due to limited underground parking options.

"Altogether, these factors decrease the amount of leasable/sellable space in a project and, combined with other economic conditions, threatens the viability of a project.

"Put simply, additional mixed-use zoning restrictions may deter investment in the community, particularly in the core area where it should be most desirable."

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