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Avens expansion clears council vote

The proposed expansion to Avens seniors home has been given the green light by city council, despite residents’ continued concerns about the design.

Two weeks ago, residents raised concerns about privacy issues, the building’s shadow and traffic buildup in the area.

But city councillors voted to approve the conditional permit — which is necessary for a long-term care facility to be able to build an expansion — and included an amendment that said city planners had to look at options to fix the anticipated traffic problems.

The building’s design includes 92 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom units, more than 80 parking spots, laundry services and a coffee shop.

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Currently, Avens has long-term care beds for 55 seniors and 32 housing units, with a waitlist of around 50 people waiting for independent living units, according to Daryl Dolynny, president of AVENS.

Bylaws state there has to be four parking spaces per unit at a specialty care facility. The size of the parking lot and the design of the building means a narrow laneway has to be used to access the building, which connects to Matonabee Street. 

Several residents voiced concerns about the safety impacts and the amount of traffic that will be using the laneway, which city administration said is not equipped for the anticipated traffic levels.

Changing from the current design would involve redesigning the parking lot, which would cost around $10 million extra because of an uneven surface.

Mayor Rebecca Alty noted the city council’s decision to approve the  use of the land for a special care facility did not mean the design was locked in.

The next stage is for the development to be reviewed by city planners, who would have had to consider options for fixing traffic problems anyways. There is also an open appeals process where residents can appeal the design if the permit is approved.

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