The City of Vernon has issued a news release outlining the plans for the McMechan Reservoir site which is being sold.
After Monday’s council meeting, several councillors said they did not know what the land was going to be used for when questioned by the media.
City News Release:
The City of Vernon has entered into a sales agreement with Vernon Reservoir Developments Ltd. for a 19.6 acre portion of the McMechan reservoir lands (901 31 Avenue) for just under $6.5 million.
The vision for a new neighbourhood proposes high quality development with a variety of housing types needed in Vernon, including single family homes on small lots, duplexes, townhouses and rowhouses. As part of this housing mix, the developer has agreed to include an attainable housing component, making it easier for average income households to buy in this neighbourhood. Secondary suites and/or carriage homes would be an option to act as mortgage helpers and to provide more rental housing in the city. The neighbourhood would also include a new park and trail system and pleasant walkable streets designed to slow automobile traffic while encouraging travel by foot and by bike. The vision of the proposed development aligns with Vernon’s Official Community Plan (OCP).
The City was approached in April 2017 by the developer regarding the City-owned lands. The site was previously used as a water reservoir for Greater Vernon Water and was decommissioned in 2006. Since that time, the City has explored a variety of ways to prepare the site for sale and development, all of which required the City to make a significant investment.
The sale to Vernon Reservoir Developments Ltd. will require them at their cost, to rezone the land and obtain a phased development agreement. The phased development agreement will assure the City and the developer what the development will look like. The developer will undertake all of the engineering, planning and site preparation necessary for development. Vernon Reservoir Developments Ltd. will be working closely with Bluegreen Architecture, the team responsible for the design of The Outback in Vernon.
“We’re excited that Vernon Reservoir Developments Ltd. wants to build a variety of attractive, high quality, housing in this area,” said Mayor Akbal Mund. “Many of these homes will also include legal secondary suites and carriage homes that can be used as mortgage helpers for the owners. Our expectation is that this development will help ease the stress of low rental vacancy in Vernon. This fits in with the vision that Vernon residents told us they want for the city through the OCP.”
“This comes at an opportune time with the recent announcement of the National Housing Strategy,” said Mayor Mund. “We hope this will demonstrate that Vernon continues to be at the forefront of creating innovative solutions to housing challenges.”
Nov. 27 story:
City of Vernon officials aren’t saying what a former water utility site could be converted into.
Council has directed staff to sell 19.6 acres (7.9 hectares) at the McMechan Reservoir site at 901 39th Avenue, to Vernon Reservoir Developments for $6.4 million.
Mayor Akbal Mund says the property isn’t needed for a utility any more.
“It’s good that some developer wants to look at it but what they are going to create, I’m not sure.”
Mund says the property hasn’t been used for years, and is relatively close to downtown.
“That’s very important because there isn’t a lot of land within the city that is close to the downtown, so the right decision is to move forward and sell it.”
Mund suggests the proceeds could be used to buy property close to Vernon for social housing.
Councillor Brian Quiring says the property has good views, but he also isn’t sure what it will be used for.
“It’s nice property. It was a reservoir so there is probably some Geo-technical. I don’t know what they are going to use it for. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Councillor Scott Anderson was opposed to council’s in-camera motion.
“I didn’t oppose the selling of it, I opposed the way it’s being sold. I think it should go on the open market.”
When asked if Anderson feels the open market may have brought in more than the 6.4 million, Anderson replied: “We don’ know. We have no way of knowing.”