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Special council meeting to be held for Hillside redevelopment

Council chambers were packed Monday night as Hillside residents showed up in full force. After nearly a year of open houses and committee meetings not all of them are happy with a proposed redevelopment plan for the area.

The ARP is meant to be a vision for how the aging neighbourhood will evolve as it continues to grow. Multiple public open houses and workshops have been held since October 2016.

Bruce Flynn has lived in Hillside for years and raised concerns in the public hearing about the members of the steering committee and council’s motivations for increasing multi-family housing units. Flynn says he’s made many complaints to bylaw about unkempt properties with little success.

“It tells me the city wants the east side run down so they can push their program that they are running here.”

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Much of the concern is around plans to increase multi-family housing. Flynn says even with the proposed 50 metre radius separating the larger units, he fears it would lead to too much congestion, saying “I may as well live in an apartment building.”

“We want single family homes, which is what’s there,” he adds. “There are already numerous duplexes and fourplexes in there and that’s enough. Where the fourplexes and duplexes are, they are ran so far in the hole and are so dirty. They’re not maintaining it. So, if they’re going to put more in, they’re not going to maintain that.”

Alan Tibbles was a member of the steering committee and also a longtime Hillside resident. He says the 12 person committee was made of about 75 per cent Hillside residents with other members including a developer and a city employee.

He says he was surprised by the level of opposition expressed by some other residents.

“There was just as much opportunity for any of these people to take part in the conversation as there was for me. I went as a home owner to the initial meeting all hot under the collar and resisting it. But then I took part in the steering committee and moved it in a direction that took care of the homeowners, myself included. [This] could have happened along the way and now it’s been a long year of a lot of meetings and we haven’t gotten anywhere.”

Tibbles thinks a resolution can be reached, but worries about committee fatigue. He says some of the concerns raised by other residents, including crime and parking are valid, they are also being addressed through other initiatives, particularly “Crime Free Multi-housing”.

“It’s basically a scoring system that they city, bylaw and RCMP will be involved with,” Tibbles explains. “They will train the landlord how to watch for things and score them based on their education and crime prevention measures installed in their buildings. Once they get to a certain level of crime prevention measures the city will award them with an incentive of some kind.”

Council could not reach a unanimous decision and a special council meeting will be scheduled before the current term ends.

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