The opposition is preparing on the height of a proposed apartment building in a small community in the southern interior of British Columbia.
Located about an hour east of Osoyoos, surrounded by mountains and nestled just above the US border, the village of Midway is home to around 650 people.
And if the opposing waiver proposal is passed by village council, it will soon house a five-story building – the tallest in Midway and two stories above the village boundary.
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As buildings disappear, five stories may not seem tall, especially when compared to a 64 story building currently under construction in Burnaby.
However, while some areas of the province are experiencing notable population growth as people move out of big cities, some residents of small towns are struggling to keep their communities rural and not urban.
Midway resident Judy Willsey said the developer’s waiver request should be denied, saying the village’s official community plan has a three-story building limit.
âIt’s a community where most people have moved to get away from major urban centers,â Willsey told Global News. âThat’s what they left behind when they moved in here.
âWe wanted a quiet rural community. It’s been like this for a long time. It’s a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other.
According to Willsey and Brenda Steer, another Midway resident, the tallest structures in Midway are a pair of three-story buildings.
Steer said she had no problem with the proposed apartment building having three floors, “but we don’t want it to go beyond the rules.”
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“It’s a small village and we want it to be that way,” Steer said, adding that if a deviation is allowed then taller buildings may be allowed. “I don’t want that to happen.”
Willsey says the community understands there is a pressing need for more housing and has no issues with the proposed three story height. But, like Steer, says five stories is too much.
In addition, she says that only seven people living within 30 meters of the proposed apartment building were made aware of the exemption request directly.
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The village, however, has a development exemption permit notice on its website, dated May 12. The exemption vote will take place on Monday, June 21.
There is no mention of the exemption request on the village’s Facebook page.
Steer said the only place the village posted it was on its main website, “and we have no reason to check this website every day.”
Notably, on the waiver notification page, the city said submissions on the waiver would be accepted until May 28. A vote was due to take place on June 7 but was postponed to June 21.
Midway Mayor Martin Fromme said the council, as a group, will discuss the waiver for the first time at Monday’s meeting.
Willsey said while the village may not be taking written submissions, they do have a petition with 115 signatures – about a sixth of Midway’s population.
“We thought we could get the board to meet and take note if we had 30 signatures,” Willsey said. âSo we’re very happy about that and we haven’t even covered the whole city. “
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Although it’s too late to officially submit the petition, Steer says they still plan to give copies to council members on Monday.
âThat’s a lot of signings for a village of 600 people,â Steer said. “Obviously people don’t want it as far as I know.”
A letter sent to Global News details a recommendation from Midway’s executive director that the board approve the development exemption permit.
The letter indicates that council reviewed the applicant’s correspondence on January 4 regarding the proposed redevelopment of the 1.4 hectare (3.5 acres) site at 430 Lyall Street.
“Council has requested staff to forward a letter to the requester informing them that they look forward to receiving further information on the redevelopment,” the letter reads.
âThe CAO then met with the applicant to discuss the details of the proposal. It was determined that the proposed five-story building (18.6 meters high) would need a variation in height, as it is proposed to be higher than 11 meters, which the zoning by-law allows.
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The letter states that the village received the application and supporting documents in April.
The letter also states âthat it is noted that the Local Government Act does not require a public hearing or publicity for an application for a development exemption permit. It is also noted that the community’s contribution has been important during the development of the official community plan and zoning by-law, both of which identify this site for future multi-family use.
Willsey called the lack of notification regarding, saying “there has been no transparency at all.” They warned seven people about a village of 670. Almost everyone here is going to be able to see this building.
Steer added: “To me it’s not at all transparent.”
Global News has contacted the Village of Midway for comment, but has not had a response at the time of publication.
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