This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on May 2nd, 2012 and was written by Andrea Klassen.
From a driveway on Fleming Place, Gordon Kerfoot is contemplating the future of his view — and his view of the future.
Above his street sits more than two hectares of wild grass and shrubs, separating neighbours downslope from Aberdeen elementary on Van Horne Drive.
For the past 19 years, the site and the view have remained about the same.
On Thursday, April 26, landowner Craftsman Ventures Ltd. sent Kerfoot a computerized rendering of what he can expect his view to be like should their plans for the lot proceed.
In the printout, a row of beige buildings peek out from behind the rooftops of Fleming Place — five being duplexes that will line the northern edge of a proposed 64-unit strata development headed to public hearing later this month.
“I showed it to my daughter Amy. She’s 14 years old,” he told KTW.
“She was like, ‘Ew.’”
Together with Joanne Swifton — who lives on another street below the development — and two other homeowners in the neighbourhood, Kerfoot has been collecting signatures for a petition opposing the strata project.
So far, at least one person in each of 101 homes in the area has signed.
Much of the controversy surrounding the project has to do with its current zoning. For several decades, the land has been zoned for church use, though city staff have said a move to multi-family zoning is consistent with Kamloops’ Official Community Plan.
Swifton and Kerfoot said many in the neighbourhood feel the densification — which includes 11 duplexes, six triplexes and a four-storey apartment building — doesn’t make sense in the area and feel the development is being unfairly sprung on them.
“I don’t have the choice of deciding now whether I’d like to live next door to a multi-family development,” Kerfoot said.
“If I go choose to live up in the [Aberdeen] Highlands, I know the zoning is already in place. You buy your home and know that’s going to be multi-family housing, medium density.”
The two are also concerned about how the new development will affect the stability of the slope on which they live.
According to Craftsman Ventures’ rezoning application, the site will contain a network of under-drains, impermeable liners and other measures to keep groundwater from running onto properties below.
However, Kerfoot said he is worried about what could happen if the system fails several years down the road, or if the system is not installed correctly, given past stability problems other developments have experienced in the Van Horne area.
Other concerns include noise for those closest to the development’s sole street-access point and a shadow study provided to Kerfoot by the developer, which he said shows houses below the apartment building could be blocked from the sun through the month of December.
A public hearing on the lot’s rezoning is set for Tuesday, May 15, but Swifton said many area residents see the project as a done deal that will be difficult to fight.
She and Kerfoot have invited councillors to tour the site in advance of that meeting, though two days after sending out the request, they had heard back only from Coun. Arjun Singh.
Though they are leading the opposition charge, Kerfoot and Swifton said they expect some sort of multi-family project will eventually be built ion the property.
But, they would like to see the developer rework the current proposal so there is more of a buffer between the edge of the project and Fleming Place — and, perhaps, fewer units built.
“It says in all the plan, developments need to complement the neighbourhood,” Swifton said. “The development we’ve seen doesn’t complement our community and we’re the ones that have to live with it.”