Plans for an eight-storey, mixed-use building on the Bedford Highway were met with concern from residents at a public meeting Monday evening.
While all residents who spoke praised the design, most were skeptical of the building’s impact on their community.
The development, Rockwinds on the Basin, is a planned 55 residential unit complex with commercial space on the ground floor. It would be located between the highway and the railway at the base of Flamingo Drive.
A land-use bylaw for the area restricts construction to a height of 35 feet (five storeys). Planning adviser KWR Approvals Inc. has applied for a bylaw amendment on behalf of the developer, Pathos Properties.
“We always get fearful when we make changes in bylaws because we worry it’s going to set a precedent that another developer will come down the road and want to do the same,” said Renee Field, a Flamingo Road resident.
Field agreed with other residents at the meeting who said additional traffic on the Bedford Highway is problematic. Currently 20,000 vehicles, including buses on 10 different routes, travel on the highway in a single day. The highway is 11.5 km long and traffic can get backed up at rush hour.
Along with 55 residential units, Rockwinds on the Basin would have 47 underground parking spots. Residents and customers of the building would add a minor increase to traffic on the highway, according to the developers.
“The last thing we want is a tunnel of eight to 10-storey buildings along the Bedford Highway,” Field said.
Pathos Properties and KWR Approvals are using a municipal tool called density bonusing to apply for the amendment. This means that in exchange for an additional three storeys, some of the units have to be affordable housing units.
Eighteen residential units would be affordable housing, with a price that’s 30 per cent less per month than average market value. Instead of paying $1,200 for a one-bedroom apartment, affordable housing tenants would pay $840 a month.
Field praised municipal officials for putting the affordable housing requirement in a contract, if the amendment is passed.
“They’re thinking along the lines of what could make a better community, which I like,” said Field.
Len Sweett was impressed with the affordable units. He said he understands his neighbours are upset about losing their view and additional traffic, but “that’s progress.”
Kevin Riles, president and CEO of KWR Approvals Inc., said developers and architects spent nearly three years re-working the original designs. He said the building isn’t financeable at only five storeys.
Gregory Johnston, the building’s architect, said there could be further changes.
“You hear what staff thinks, you hear what council thinks, but it’s really the people in the community who will be the most affected by a building like this,” Johnston said.
“It’s still only on paper so we can continue to improve it every which way.”
The next stage of the process is for the amendment to go before Halifax and west community council. If approved, construction will take around 18 months.