The development of 29 new housing units in Hay River can go ahead after the town’s council approved a required zoning amendment on Monday night.
Councillors had been discussing the Fraser Place development for years. On Monday, they unanimously passed the zoning bylaw that will allow homes to be built on the land.
Town staff have maintained the development will be a low-cost, quick way to make more housing available after the loss of its highrise to a fire and with an expected population boom on the horizon.
The town expects that boom to be driven by employment at the Pine Point mine if it reopens as planned, expansion of a wood pellet mill and industrial zone near Enterprise, the opening of a new fish processing plant, and the creation of a long-term care facility.
Mayor Kandis Jameson acknowledged, however, that some residents still held reservations about building on green space at the heart of the community.
“The town currently has no residential zoned properties in inventory. There’s very little housing available for sale on the private market,” she said.
“This area has been identified for over 15 years by council. This is the first step to address the short-term community housing needs.”
Some residents have voiced concerns about the development reducing town green space and closing down some access to walking trails.
Hay River’s senior administrative officer, Glenn Smith, previously told Cabin Radio approximately 65 percent of the green space around Fraser Place will remain, including access to walking trails and the river.
The cost of developing other areas of the town would be far higher, council has heard, and could take years.
Councillor Brian Willows said on Monday he believed the project was a good compromise for the community.
Town staff, he said, had “developed a plan that is pleasing to the eye and still maintains the environment and the trails.”
At previous council meetings, construction at Fraser Place has been forecast to begin before the end of 2021.