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McCaw North Drilling and Blasting has begun blasting at Homes North's Block 501 site on Coronation Drive. While a development agreement has not be finalized, council is expected to see a development scheme in the coming weeks which will offer a clear idea of where roads and homes will be situated on the 170-plus unit site. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Council to see development scheme
McCaw North begins blasting access for 170-plus unit site on Coronation Drive

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 1, 2012

A development scheme for Block 501 - the single detached dwelling subdivision proposed by Homes North developer Les Rocher - is expected for city council's review in the coming weeks.

After discussions over the winter involved whether to assist the developer with $3.8 million in financial assistance for 178 modular homes, Mayor Gord Van Tighem says council will get to see the layout of where roads, pipes, parks, single family and multi-family units will ultimately go.

"The development scheme will be coming to council and will require public input and that should be coming in the next couple of weeks," he said.

"At this point there seems to be an agreement as to what is going in and who is doing what with which and to whom, and that should all be coming to council shortly."

Rocher was contacted last week and said the issue was still under negotiations, as far as he was concerned.

"I sure hope so," he said when asked if work would take place this year. He referred further questions to senior administrative officer Bob Long.

Van Tighem said there is also a development proposal which council will have to review afterward.The $3.8-million request made in October by Rocher and his representatives, Walter Orr and Kevin Hodgins of Stantec, has since been revised, because medium density units have now been included in the project. The mayor says the sale of the latter units will cover many of the associated costs that have to be done up front to move the project forward.

"As the ebb and flow of the last few months has gone, that (medium density housing) rose out of it," he said, which will increase the density of the subdivision and meet the goals of the city. "Also, it will create a positive cash flow for the developer to allow him to pay for some of the upfront costs until he starts selling the single units that he really wants to."

Last October, council had been asked to cover six requests for the project located near the correctional facility. At the time, Rocher was looking for $600,000 for water and sewer infrastructure from Bourque Drive to the boundary of the property, construction of road connections between Kam Lake Road and Coronation Drive, more for creating subdivision parks, $400,000 for underwater mains, and $2 million for asphalt, sidewalks, and curb and gutter development.

The project is noted as a high priority for the city in the 2012 General Plan and fits into the city's plans over the next decade to provide 1,500 housing units.

"We are very interested in that development and your assumption that we would be talking about it over the winter would be correct," said city councillor David Wind. "The gist of the discussion would have been to make that development viable in the eyes of the developer."

Wind said he was still waiting to see a final agreement between the city and the developer.

Wind reiterated the position he took at a presentation last fall, saying council needed to ensure there was a balance in its goals of acquiring full-cost recovery and on the other hand seeking affordable housing.

There has been blasting this week at the site by McCaw North Drilling and Blasting Ltd., which is looking to put road access into the property.

"We started blasting about 10 days ago and it is just for road access," said Shane Freeman, project superintendent with McCaw North. He expects blasting will take place over two months.

Coun. Cory Vanthuyne said he would have liked to have seen the city treat Rocher as more of a business partner and has felt the expectations put on the developer has been particularly stringent.

"My position has been given that particular development, there have been some completely precedent setting expectations from the city's part that we simply do not impose on any other developer," he said. "Unlike other developers building multi-unit structures on a single lot with one water main, Mr. Rocher has 170 lots that each individually need water and sewer services."

Coun. Shelagh Montgomery said she sees the project as another example of the city providing housing, but pointed out there are a number of multi-family developments going on. She did not see the issue as the highest priority for affordable housing, and thinks full-cost recovery is an important policy the city is following.

"I think the full cost recovery is a good policy and I think a lot of councillors have different views on what affordable housing is," she said. "For me, building single family housing is not really how you achieve affordable housing."

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