RareBirds get a place to nest with council OK

The RareBirds are taking flight with their housing co-op after City council approved their project rezoning Tuesday night.

The co-op housing proposal involves 12 people living together under one roof with a communal kitchen and shared expenses. Neighbours who spoke for and against the project all agreed it was a good idea and well planned.

But some felt the large-scale building wouldn't fit in with the small-scale houses nearby.

RareBirds spokesman Dan Hines said so far, the co-op consists of three couples and two singles, with room for one more single or couple.

They will share space, vehicles and expenses in the equity co-op, but with larger than normal bedrooms.

Denis Boucher, who owns a rental home beside the RareBirds lot at the end of Battle Street West, asked who would monitor the people living in the house. He wondered if it could be filled with renters, and if the large home would impact the value of his little house.

He and other neighbours also cited parking and loss of privacy as concerns.

Regina Sadilkon said she supported the co-op idea, but she didn't like the size of the house compared with all the older, small houses on the block. She suggested the City look at anti-monster-house zoning to prevent such out-of-scale projects down the road.

Some neighbours also spoke in support of the project, such as Jacquie Brand, who said the co-op is the wave of the future.

The neighbourhood is eclectic, with homes from the very small to the very large. The RareBirds held an open house last spring to let the neighbours know what they were doing, she said.

She even offered them extra parking at her property if they needed it.

Some council members were enthusiastic about voting in favour of the project, while others had more reservations.

Even Mayor Peter Milobar said he didn't think the co-op was the way of the future, but he felt the group had put in a lot of time, energy and money - as well as thought - into their plans and they deserved to take a shot at it.

They took steps to create a buffer the house from the Boucher's home, and communicated with the neighbourhood, he said.

Coun. Marg Spina said the co-op gives people a great way to age in place.

Coun. Nelly Dever checked on the number of pets the residents could have. Because it's considered one house, they're restricted to two cats and two dogs, maximum.

Coun. Pat Wallace said she didn't like the size of the house, but the design was well done and high quality.

The rezoning passed unanimously.

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