British Columbia

Kelowna's infill housing plan could ruin neighbourhoods, says planner

A building planner and former head of a heritage society is concerned the infill housing plan in Kelowna, B.C., could drastically change the character of downtown neighbourhoods.

Kelowna's 'Sensitive Infill Housing' plan would allow tiny homes, carriage houses and fourplexes

The City of Kelowna is looking at increasing urban density by adopting a new infill housing plan (City of Kelowna)

A Kelowna, B.C., building planner is concerned the city's infill housing plan could drastically change the character of downtown neighbourhoods.

The City of Kelowna has started the process of changing its official community plan to increase urban density.

Called the "Sensitive Infill Housing" plan, the changes would allow an increase in the number of tiny homes, carriage houses, duplexes and fourplex apartments on approximately 1,000 city lots.

The initiative has passed first reading by Kelowna city council and will go now to a public hearing.

But building planner and former president of the Central Okanagan Heritage Society, Peter Chataway, told CBC Radio's Daybreak South the city needs to proceed with caution.

'How it is done is very important'

"When you get up to four units on a lot and then you start combining those on the block, I think you are pretty severely changing the character of the neighbourhood and impacting social policy, environmental policy and economics."

Chataway said currently, the number of carriage homes in downtown neighbourhoods is still relatively small. He believes the city should encourage more of that type of laneway housing before it allows fourplex apartments.

"I think it's a great idea, but how it is done is very important," he said.

"Traffic. Where is the traffic calming? Waste. Demolishing a beautiful home ... and putting it in the landfill doesn't meet sustainability," he said.

"Greenspace. Where is the no net-loss policy on landscape? [If] you remove a 100 year-old tree, you should be putting back 10 10-year-old trees, not one, one-year-old tree."

'Let's not lose it with overdeveloping'

Chataway says the feel of a neighbourhood is also important.

"Do we just want to warehouse people, or do we want to provide safe, affordable, adequate housing with amenities like parks and daycare spaces so families can actually live downtown?" he asked.

"Let's not lose it with overdeveloping and then people hating their street or neighbourhood, so they move out."

With files from CBC Radio's Daybreak South