Mission may soon have a new form of development in the city – the back-to-back townhome.
Council voted on Sept. 7 to support the new form, after a developer brought forward an application which differs from the traditional townhome permitted in current zoning.
“I think we’re ready for a lower-priced product. And I think we’re ready for new innovative ideas,” said Coun. Cal Crawford.
The developer had submitted an application to the city to develop three lots on Cherry Avenue, and while the zoning only allows for mid-to-high density developments (duplexes, apartments); back-to-back townhomes are not.
Staff looked at regulations in neighbouring municipalities to draft a comprehensive development zone for the applicant, which will serve as a test for a future amendment to Mission’s bylaws.
The development style is described as generally allowing for higher density but less private amenity space per unit due to an absence of backyards.
They typically are two to four storeys in height, and amenity space is replaced by a rooftop deck and common space elsewhere in the strata.
Although supportive of the new form of development, staff want it introduced in a thoughtful manner, according to their report. They expressed concern over the developer’s requested concessions on the required amenity space.
“(Concern) is based on the comparison of examples, and the fundamental idea that in a more dense build form, amenity space in all forms is critical,” the report says.
The only dissenting vote among councillors was Coun. Danny Plecas, who was challenged by the lack of green space, and changing neighbourhood consistency, particularly on the west side of the city.
“This is really driven through an interested party who wants to develop this particular site,” Plecas said. “When you start changing housing forums, block to block, what are you saying to the broader community?
“Once one person does it, then along comes the next person who wants to do the same thing.”
Crawford countered that the days of consistent development forms across neighbourhoods are over, and the back-to-back townhomes are just a middle ground between a duplex and an apartment.
“Last month, house-price average in Mission (for a) medium home was $955,000 … Up 37 per cent over last year, same month,” Crawford said, adding new forms of housing are needed.
“What if we do get anywhere with tiny houses, which I’ve been talking about for three years now … How do we ever make that step, if we can’t make this simple step?”
Coun. Mark Davies and Mayor Paul Horn both stated the market will eventually decide what works and doesn’t, when it comes to new developments in the city.
“I’ve seen examples of this and other communities. This isn’t testing the waters in a way that others haven’t done,” Horn said.