The apartment building would be one of the tallest in Quesnel. (Submitted)

The apartment building would be one of the tallest in Quesnel. (Submitted)

Five-storey apartment building planned for West Quesnel

The development would take place close to the Tillicum Society/Friendship Centre

Plans are in the works for a five-storey, 34 unit apartment building in West Quesnel.

The Tillicum Society and Friendship Centre wrote to Quesnel City Council seeking a zoning change to allow them to build the complex. It would re-zone the entire area around 319 North Fraser Drive to a comprehensive development zone.

Director of development services Tanya Turner said she was blown away by the society’s justification letter.

“It was the best I have ever seen in my 12 years,” she said. “It was 21 pages, done by a professional and I was a little bit teary-eyed when I saw it, because it was so well done.”

The units in the building will be geared toward lower income individuals.

According to the justification letter, the society and friendship centre started planning the building after an invitation from BC Housing to non-profit providers interested in development. The letter was written by M’akola Development Services, and outlined the need for this kind of building in Quesnel.

“More than 41 per cent of renters in the area are spending more than 30% of their before-tax income on rent and utilities, putting them in core housing need,” the letter reads. “Furthermore, the City of Quesnel is likely to witness a continued increase in the share population aged 65 years and older… The challenge associated with housing and the senior population is that seniors may not be able to remain in their single family detached homes due to maintenance costs, and health and mobility challenges.”

Councillor Mitch Vik noted he expects those numbers to continue to degrade in the coming years.

“It speaks to the continued need for more improved housing options in our community,” he said. “This is a tremendous step for us.”

The letter also says vacancy rate for both bachelor and two bedroom apartments in Quesnel is under two per cent.

The project is in the Fraser River floodplain, but the grade around the building will not need to be raised. Turner explained there are no livable spaces or building mechanics on the ground floor, only parking. Even the building’s elevator doesn’t have mechanics on the ground floor.

“I know it’s just the beginning of this, but it seems very exciting,” Housing committee chair Scott Elliott said. “(I’m) Glad to see an elevator in there. Sometimes it isn’t able to happen, as we’ve seen before.”

Turner said this would be the only comprehensive development zone in Quesnel, adding more of them could pop up as further developments are planned. All previous zones of this type in Quesnel have disappeared.

This kind of zoning allows the society and friendship centre’s existing buildings to continue operating normally alongside the new building.

A recording of council’s meeting is available on the city’s YouTube page.

In a proposed schedule, the city outlined April 7 as a possible public hearing day, with the project receiving approval on Tuesday, May 4.

The Tillicum Society/Friendship Centre project was one of four developments council heard updates on during their meeting.

READ MORE: Quesnel Council hears development plans

READ MORE: Quesnel’s 2024 BC Winter Games bid falls through

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