Preliminary results are in for the Official Community Plan survey, where residents could voice their issues and concerns.

The City of Merritt held a Committee of the Whole meeting with consultants on Friday morning, discussing the results so far.

One hot topic has been the maximum building height in Merritt, both within the City Centre area and outside of it.

In the City Centre, options given have been six, eight, ten or twelve stories, as well as an ‘other’ category, with respondents asked to specify.

44.33% of respondents have answered six storeys, though it is closely followed by the ‘other’ category, which the consultant said people want “way less than six storeys.”

“There’s a bit of a split opinion on that height, and just what the character of the downtown area should be,” she said.

Planning and Development Services Manager Don MacArthur said there may be some confusion with the question, prompting some residents to think that all new buildings in the area would be of that size, and said that the question may have to be reworded in the next round.

The consultant added that a visual representation of what the result could look like, depending on what height is chosen, could be in future plans.

“Just for people to see, what does it feel like to be standing next to an eight storey building, instead of a ten storey building?”

Councillor Kurt Christopherson said that stepbacks, where upper storeys are pushed in further back to the centre of the building, could be beneficial.

“From a street perspective, you can still retain that lower profile by having a stepback. The street can be retained at what people are comfortable with, but the building can be taller.”

MacArthur said that the city already requires a stepback for buildings over four storeys, due to the new zoning bylaw. He added, however, that it can be revised for certain areas, using Quilchena Ave. as an example where maybe it could be revised to two storeys.

Outside of the City Centre, the results are similar: respondents were given the choice of five, six, seven, eight storeys, or ‘other’, with the leader being ‘other’ followed by five.

MacArthur added that the prospect of location would certainly factor into this decision, suggesting there could ‘urban villages’ where the density would be more concentrated.

The concern about multiple storey buildings also tied into Merrittonians’ concerns about residential property: when asked what sort of housing is needed to support population growth, respondents have so far picked low density housing, such as single family homes.

Affordable housing was also listed as the top concern when it came to housing.

An additional topic is one where respondents are asked to rank Merritt’s ‘challenges’ from one through eight: aging infrastructure took the top spot, closely followed by a lack of employment opportunities.

The vast majority of respondents so far have lived in Merritt for over 16 years, according to the survey results. The neighbourhood with the most respondents has been the Bench, followed by Diamond Vale.

As of Nov. 19, 337 people have responded to the OCP survey. It can be found at the link here.

It can be filled out until Nov. 23.