Calgary

Drop-In Centre's hotel conversion plan OK'd by appeal board

The Calgary Drop-In Centre will be allowed to turn a former hotel into a housing facility, despite being denied permission several months ago.

Former Quality Inn at 4804 Edmonton Trail to have mix of long-term supported housing and market-rate units

The Calgary Drop-In Centre posted this rendering of the proposed hotel conversion project, dubbed Centre 4800, on its website. (thedi.ca/Screenshot)

The Calgary Drop-In Centre will be allowed to turn a former hotel into a housing facility, despite being denied permission several months ago.

Last fall, the Calgary Planning Commission rejected the DI's plan to turn the former Quality Inn at 4804 Edmonton Trail into Centre 4800.

The organization turned to the Calgary Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (CSDAB) to try to get that decision overturned.

On Thursday, the board said the DI will be issued a development permit to proceed with its plan if it abides by several new conditions.

In a summary of its decision, the board says the proposal meets the policies of the Municipal Development Plan, the Land Use Bylaw and criteria set out in city council's planning principles document for the location of care facilities. 

The conditions the DI must meet include that the building never be used as a shelter, that it be staffed at all times and that the organization establishes a citizen liaison committee.

The board is also requiring the DI to make specific improvements to the building, including new windows on the east main floor and additional landscaping on the west side along Edmonton Trail. 

"The building shall be painted in a visually appealing colour scheme," the board said.

Marvin Quashnick with the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association said he's not surprised by the decision, and that his group might still go to court to try to stop the project.

He said he remains skeptical that the DI will abide by all the conditions attached to the development. 

"We're talking about an agency that plays by their own rules, and is very difficult to work with, so that's primarily it," he said. 

"Our thrust, essentially, was not to block the facility but to make it as functional as possible. We tagged the line from a long time ago that this is assisted living without assistance."

DI executive director Debbie Newman said the project will help a lot of people rebuild their lives.

"It's been a victorious day for those that need housing," she said. "We'll be more than happy to follow through with everything that the chair outlined today."

Newman has said the project addressed community concerns, met the city's planning criteria and should have been approved in the first place.

She said 46 of the units at Centre 4800 are earmarked for long-term supported housing, while the remaining 33 will be available for rent at market or near-market rates.

The DI bought the site in 2012 in a bankruptcy sale, but its plan to turn it into a housing facility immediately sparked opposition from people who live in the nearby communities.

The proposed plan for the building has since gone through several iterations.

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