Red Deer city council gives initial approval to first Woodlea carriage house

Two councillors had concerns about the development

The first carriage house in Red Deer’s Woodlea neighbourhood got initial approval from city council on Monday.

Carly Enright and Ken Duhamel, who own 5334-43rd Ave. conducted a door-to-door survey of about 80 neighbours, and found overwhelmingly support for their plan to build a potential rental residence above a detached backyard garage.

Only five people surveyed were opposed to the project and a further six were unsure. Most said they didn’t mind if it went ahead, while others praised the proposed development as a good idea. “It’s better than a big condo building,” said one resident.

Kim Fils-Aime, a planner for the City of Red Deer, said carriage houses had not really been considered for mature neighbourhoods, such as Woodlea. The city had promoted creating them in a new development in Timberlands North.

City manager Craig Curtis initially supported Duhamel’s project, but later recommended against it after hearing previous concerns from the Woodlea community association about an increase to neighbourhood density and carriage houses not being in keeping with the area’s character.

But the majority of councillors supported the carriage house project upon first reading, said Fils-Aime, with only Councillors Frank Wong and Lawrence Lee voting against it.

Wong had suggested the city should first study whether carriage houses should be allowed in various neighbourhoods, as this project could set a precedent. Noting that Timberlands’ carriage house lots were not selling quickly, he wondered if some people have concerns about a loss of backyard privacy.

Fils-Aime said garages with living spaces on top are taller than usual, but not out of keeping with other structures in the neighbourhood. “We already have some oversized garages.”

The application is expected to come back to council for a public hearing on May 28.

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