The Highlands of East Hill
Stoni is partnering with the City of Vernon to utilize an undeveloped property which had at one time been used as a reservoir. The McMechan Reservoir sit is being re-imaged to form a new residential community known as The Highlands of East Hill.
The City of Vernon has been working with Stoni to explore development options guided by the Official Community Plan (OCP) Small Lot Residential land use designation and applicable policies.
The McMechan Reservoir site offers a tremendous opportunity to create a modern, compact residential neighbourhood that fulfills numerous policies in the Vernon OCP - a neighbourhood built using alternative development standards, having ample park space and trails, and providing smaller housing options, currently in short supply in Vernon, close to existing services and amenities.
Housing types encouraged under this OCP designation include small lot single-family homes, semi-detached, duplex and row housing with fee simple ownership being preferred and encouraged over strata ownership. These housing types are known as ground oriented housing, where each unit has its own separate entrance from ground level and can appeal to a diversity of potential buyers. To provide rental opportunities, mortgage helpers and unit type diversity, secondary uses such as secondary suites, carriage houses, laneway houses and garden suites are also being explored. A small commercial node is also being considered to provide small scale neighbouhood commercial services and potentially a daycare facility.
Standard single family homes in Vernon are no longer achievable for many residents because of aggressively increasing house prices and low to moderate income growth. The trend toward smaller homes is growing, as are smaller households for environmental and economic reasons, and more small lot homes are needed to meet the demand in Vernon. This type of development is also less vulnerable to market forces because it is more accessible to a larger audience. Attainable housing units are also being explored to be integrated into the development.
A commitment of a minimum of 10% attainable ownership units is one of the goals for the development. The proposed model for these units is that they would sell below market with a housing agreement to ensure they are perpetually non-market units. The below market units would be a mix of housing types and spread throughout the development. Should the proposal proceed and Council be interested in pursuing attainable housing options for this development, Social Planning Council, the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and the Vernon Land Trust would be engaged to develop these opportunities further. The details of the proposed housing program would be developed during the rezoning process and facilitated through a Phased Development Agreement.
Form and Character
The design of a neighbourhood and the architecture of its buildings impact the how people feel about the neighbourhood. They affect resident and visitor behavior, community pride, transportation choices and perceived safety. Architectural design could be encouraged to provide a variety of contemporary building styles, materials and colours that would complement one another but avoid a theme or any one style of architecture. Roof lines should vary and provide visual interest while having consistent heights. Street rhythm should be created by massing, setbacks and unit widths and placement. How houses integrate to the street is important for neighbourhood feel. Landscaping of the site should be incorporated into the subdivision design and trees could be planted within future residential lots. This will provide greenery without increasing long term operational maintenance costs.
Infrastructure and Parks
Infrastructure design could incorporate alternative development standards to support and be consistent with Sustainable Infrastructure Investment Plan, the Integrated Transportation Framework and the Transportation Master Plan. Narrower paved surfaces, lanes for rear vehicle access, separated walking paths, and multimodal transportation design, with less focus on the vehicle as a prominent design factor could be explored. Garages could be accessed from the rear of properties. Shared driveway accesses are encouraged to minimize interruptions in pedestrian flows. Mutrie Road would also need to be widened and upgraded as part of the proposed development.
Integrated stormwater management could be incorporated into the drainage design and integrated with the park. Strong connections to a neighbourhood park from the homes and surrounding development are desirable. Trail connections are to be provided through the site north/south and east/west and connect people to the Mutrie Dog Park. The potential developer has agreed to provide, at minimum, 2 acres of parkland dedication which is roughly double what is required through the subdivision process.
Public Participation Process
Workshops are being planned early in the neighbourhood planning process with the Advisory Planning Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee, both for information purposes and to gain input. In addition, a Public Participation process would inform the public of the project and consult to gain input regarding the vision, design, housing types and density proposed for the site.
The above noted ideas are based on best planning, engineering, and transportation practices in neighbourhood design and are guided by the Vernon OCP. The proposed development would engage the public and be reviewed comprehensively by Council through interim reporting, the rezoning process and through the creation of the Phased Development Agreement.