By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

Invermere council approved a development variance permit for a new downtown development, allowing it to have four stories instead of the usual maximum of three.

The planned development, proposed by Calgary-based BRT Consulting Ltd., is a four-story, 11-housing unit, mixed residential and commercial development that would be built on a currently vacant lot on 14th Street, roughly between the dentist office and rodeo grounds. The residential part of the proposal envisions two buildings (one a four housing-unit building, and the other a seven housing-unit building) and the commercial part would add another two buildings offering a total of 3,300 square feet for six units of ground-level street-front commercial property facing along 14th Street, with residential units above.

The variance permit was granted during Invermere council’s Tuesday, June 8 meeting.

Councillor Ute Juras, who lives quite close to where the proposed development would be built, said she’s had feedback from many of her neighbours, and it was all positive. Juras noted the feedback she’s heard was centred around views, with her neighbours noting the new development won’t obstruct or change their views. 

Councillor Kayja Becker said she had an email from a local resident against giving the developers a variance permit for a fourth story. 

Becker added that even taking that feedback into consideration, she is still in support of “practical density” and that this development proposal is “a wise way” to deal with spacing issues, because the lower level floor would be for parking, which would mean no additional parked cars on the streets downtown if the development goes ahead.

The developers had previously outlined that they were seeking the variance to accommodate on-site parking requirements with ground floor garages as well as to allow the residential units above to include a fourth-story rooftop structure, functioning somewhat like a mini-penthouse (or ‘den’) and a deck area.

Councillor Gerry Taft said a local resident had asked him if the high-density development could potentially present problems for the fire department. Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik said the proposal had been referred to the local fire department, and that the plan meets codes and the fire department does not have any concerns about it.

Taft, who is a realtor, clarified that he has no relationship to buyers or sellers associated with the development. As a result, he is not in any conflict of interest in voting on the variance permit.

The total height of the proposed development, including all four stories, will be 13.7 metres, which is 1.3 metres lower than the 15 metre maximum (for three stories) allowed under the lot’s C1 zoning.

In a previous discussion about the development council members had expressed positive opinions about the development, noting that the district has long wanted to encourage more multi-family housing instead of continually adding more single family residential lots.

In total, the proposed development envisions 11 townhouses and 3,000 square feet of commercial space in 500 square foot bays along 14th Street.