© City of Prince Albert photo
An architectural drawing of the proposed seniors care home and assisted living facility at 658 River St. E. is seen in council’s agenda for Monday’s meeting.
Facing a 42-name petition opposing a proposed seniors care home and assisted living facility at 658 River St. E., a split city council has a contentious decision to make on Monday.
A decision was originally set to take place during council’s Aug. 12 meeting, but it was delayed until Sept. 23 in order to allow the public adequate time to respond.
The project comes with a long history, dating back to 2008, when previous council approved a three-storey seniors housing complex -- a condominium unit. This approval has since expired.
The current proposal includes 20 personal care home spaces on the main floor and 36 assisted living spaces on the second and third floors, consolidating three riverfront lots to the west of where Third Street East breaks off of Fourth Street.
The land is zoned as R3 -- Two Unit Dwelling Zone -- where “senior citizen housing” is deemed discretionary use, meaning it requires council approval before a development permit can be issued.
Kopera Care Homes would operate the proposed River Breeze Retirement Complex.
City administration has recommended the project’s approval.
The following are some of the perceived pros and cons to the seniors care home, as expressed during executive committee meetings, letters to council and a city administration report.
• The facility is an improvement over the project past council approved in 2008, Kopera Care Homes owner Dave Kopera notes.
The facility will include 16-foot yards instead of the 10-foot-yards previously approved. The overall building size has been reduced, as well as parking stalls, increasing the overall green space.
The height of the currently-proposed building is a floor shorter than the one council approved in 2008, project co-ordinator Elaine Spencer writes in a letter to council, noting that the new proposal is without the partially underground parkade the 2008 proposal had.
• Area residents’ concerns about parking will not be realized, Kopera wrote in a letter to council, noting that the 28 parking stalls required for the structure are more than adequate. In his 26 years of running full care and assisted living homes, they’ve only had three residents who required a stall. In addition, they expect the highest number of staff normally on duty at one time would be five, of whom not all will necessarily drive.
• The property has long been vacant and will bring in tax revenue, Coun. Mark Tweidt noted.
"This place is going to be $25,000 to $30,000 in taxes and we're going to turn it down? That blows my mind," he said.
• The project will meet a need for senior housing in Prince Albert.
“The waiting lists for seniors to get into care facilities are too long,” he wrote in a letter to council. “Our care homes consistently have a waiting list in excess of 75 people.”
There's no doubt about it, it's needed,” Coun. Ted Zurakowski said.
• It’s better for seniors to remain in the community rather than isolated on the outskirts of town, Kopera wrote. They also “make great neighbours. They don’t have too many wild parties … Our seniors want to live in the heart of Prince Albert.”
With a bus stop just outside of the building, it increases seniors’ mobility, project-co-ordinator Elaine Spencer notes.
• Not approving the development would send negative mixed message, Coun. Ted Zurakowski said.
"When this council was elected, we put out the word that we are open for development -- bring it on," he said.
• Parking might be an issue, a number of area residents suggest, with a letter from Linda Mosher asserting that “when it is totally filled with parked cars it is very dangerous to get on the street backing into oncoming traffic when you can’t see it.”
“Our family has many vehicles so we can’t all fit in (the) driveway so we all use our street for parking, which I’m sure visitors or residents will start taking,” nearby resident Debbie St. Germain writes.
• The building would not fit into the neighbourhood, area resident Linda Mosher asserts, noting that all other buildings in the area are one, one-and-a-half and two-storey single family homes.
"The density of this particular proposal is far too high for the neighbourhood," Coun. Lee Atkinson said.
• Residents from the surrounding neighbourhood appear almost unanimous in opposing the development, with 42 names on the petition before council at Monday’s meeting.
• Some nearby residents will lose their view of the river.
“When we first built here we hoped we would have the beautiful view of the river forever. We knew that wouldn’t happen, but this complex will be closing it completely.”
• The construction phase will create noise for the neighbourhood, St. Germain writes in a letter to council.
• The building will block sunlight, neighbour Judy Tubman writes in a letter to council, noting that she will “have no sunlight” in her backyard due to the building’s height.