By Steve Hubrecht

Invermere council gave third reading to bylaw amendments allowing for the Orchard development, but is holding off on adopting these amendments until the developer signs a covenant.

The Orchard development, which has been proposed by Ski Homes Ltd, would see six duplexes and three single family dwellings built on the expansive lot between 13th Avenue and 14th Avenue, a bit to the south of the intersection of 13th Avenue and 15th Street. Currently, the lot has one single family home, sitting alone on the large property, meaning the proposal would see the number of housing units on the lot jump one to 15, but Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik highlighted that the concern from the district’s perspective stems not so much from the number of units as the impact the development would have on the local neighbourhood’s already-at-capacity sewage system.

“It’s moving from a single family residence on a very large lot to…15 units. So 14 additional hookups on this lot,” he said during the Tuesday, Jan. 12 Invermere council meeting, adding most of the hookups would be on 13th Avenue, which is exactly where the sewage system capacities issues are.

Hromanik outlined that during the public consultation on the bylaw amendments, local residents also voiced worry about “access off of 13th Avenue, increased traffic, road types and the impact on the neighbourhood,” with specific concern that, with the Orchard touching both 13th Avenue and 14th Avenue, it may become an unofficial short cut to the front entrance of Eileen Madson Primary School or to the east side of David Thompson Secondary School. “So we’ve made it a condition of any further subdivision, if we get that far, that access (to 14th Avenue from 13th Avenue) would not be through access and would not create those short cut conditions,” said Hromadnik.

The sewer system issue is trickier, since the current sanitary utility in the area is already more or less operating at a maximum capacity. The issue is a pressing one, and even without the Orchard development, the district is planning to re-align 13th Avenue and make “needed infrastructure upgrades” in the next one to three years, said Hromadnik.

“So the situation is because we do not know when the utilities will be able to handle this development, we are proposing a restriction,” he said, adding this covenant would mean Ski Homes Ltd. can get building permits, but would not be able to get hookups or have occupancy in any of the buildings until the utility shortfall is resolved.

Council unanimously agreed to give the bylaw amendments third reading, but will wait to official adopting them until the developer signs the covenant.