An interested developer has their sights set on constructing a new multi-unit residential building in the Town of Rosthern, but not everyone in the neighbourhood believes that this is the project the community needs.
On Feb. 10, residents of Kestrel Court in Rosthern received a public notice informing them of Town Council’s intent to amend the zoning bylaw, permitting developers to construct the eight-unit dwelling on two of the street’s lots. According to the public notice, it is proposed that the Zoning Bylaw amendments will rezone from R1 – Low Density Residential to R2 – Medium Density Residential.
While the Town has not confirmed the price point of the monthly rentals, Rosthern residents have speculated on social media that the units will start at $1800 a month, not including utilities.
Colin Dykhuizen, a lifelong Rosthern resident, has been a property owner on Kestrel Court for the last 18 years. Following the news of the proposed development just two houses down from his own, Dykhuizen knew he needed to speak out about how he believes the project will affect not only his street, but the rest of Rosthern as well.
In a Facebook post on a public Rosthern Rant and Rave group, Dykhuizen shared his concerns over the proposed bylaw amendment and asked community members to consider the bigger issue at hand.
“Zoning bylaws exist to protect residents from having inappropriate structures erected in designated areas. It’s about protecting quality of life and investments of the people that already have a vested interest in the town,” reads Dykhuizen’s post. “We need development and affordable housing, but there are available areas already zoned for such construction. Why should locals cater to the whims of an outside third party that seeks to profit at the expense of those that live, work, and have invested in this community for a lifetime?”
In an interview with the Herald, Dykhuizen said his thoughts are shared by many of his neighbours, some of whom have expressed wanting to sell their homes and move over concerns of privacy and ability to enjoy their properties.
“The structure that is proposed is so large that it will need to occupy the entire property. Essentially, there’s going to be a building overlooking some neighbour’s backyards from two or three stories above,” said Dykhuizen. “It’s going to block out the sunshine [and] kill their gardens.”
Increased traffic levels for the families with children that live on the street is also an issue that has been raised among residents, said Dykhuizen.
“There is no second route in and out of the Court. By doubling the capacity, there’s concerns during the construction period for community members and children and pedestrians, as well as emergency vehicles,” he said. “Beyond that, this would be one more building that is pushing the capacity of the volunteer fire department and emergency services.”
Mayor of Rosthern Dennis Helmuth said the location was cited by the individuals that are interested in the development; they just saw the empty lots and inquired.
“If there were other available lots, I’m sure they would have been inquired into,” said Helmuth.
Dykhuizen said this is about more than just the bylaw amendment, it’s also about prioritizing the development of affordable rentals over high-end properties.
On Dec. 8, Rosthern’s only apartment was destroyed by a fire, displacing around a dozen families in the community where rental properties are already hard to come by.
Helmuth confirmed that the apartment building is going to be rebuilt but gave no other details.
“Rather than coming up with a solution to house those community members that are already present, they’re proposing a project that hasn’t been supported, as of yet, with any market research made known to the public,” said Dykhuizen. “This does not fill the niche that the current community is requesting or is commenting on social media and discussing amongst themselves.”
According to Dykhuizen, the Town of Rosthern has not adequately notified residents of their intent to change the bylaw or develop the multi-unit building. He’s only been made aware of a few homeowners on Kestrel Court that received written notifications if they were home at 11 a.m. on the weekday it was delivered.
“I’ve been actively looking for posters on the billboards downtown, checking social medias where the Town of Rosthern regularly posts, I even looked in the newsletters that are distributed with the water bills, and there was zero mention of this proposal or upcoming town meeting,” explained Dykhuizen. “I actively searched for notification, and I found absolutely nothing.”
Helmuth said this is an ongoing process and the Town is playing it through.
“The outcomes haven’t been nailed down one way or the other,” he said. “There’s a dearth of housing of all types in this community, so that’s our larger interest here.”
Council of the Town of Rosthern will be holding a public hearing on March 6 at 7 p.m. in the Community Multi-Purpose Centre for anyone that wishes to comment on the proposed bylaw amendment. Council will also consider written comments received at the hearing or delivered to the Town’s Chief Administrative Officer, Nicole Lerat, before the hearing date.
The online edition of this article has been edited to include the Mayor of the Town of Rosthern’s comments, as they were not received in time for print publication.