Proposed development raises concerns

Dieppe Road development does not meet local area plan

On Oct. 6, Saanich council approved a major proposed development, estimated value in excess of $25 million, at 4247, 4253 and 4255 Dieppe Road in Saanich. These three properties, located on Dieppe Road at the north end of Douglas Street in North Quadra, are currently used as food processing plant and three residential units. The total site area is approximately 3.13 hectares (7.9 acres) of which approximately 22 per cent is under a high-voltage Hydro transmission line. The current two food processing buildings are partly on a small industrial-zoned land while the rest of the site is A1-Rural. The community’s initial suggestions to retain some land for greenhouses or food production were not accepted for economic reasons.

Essentially there are three components to the proposed development. The first component is a new food processing plant. This component was accepted by the North Quadra Community Associations (NQCA). The second component of 33 townhomes was a contentious component. The third component of nine single family lots was also accepted by NQCA.

The proposed density of 33 townhomes was in excess of 200 per cent than that allowed (10 units per hectare) in the North Quadra Local Area Plan (NQLAP). In addition, there were significant variances in heights and siting proposed for these townhomes. It should be noted that The NQLAP does allow up to 15 (150 per cent higher) units per hectare where a development proposal provides substantial amenities. The substantial amenities are deemed to be in addition to the other development requirements and charges.

Therefore, the local residents were expecting, and were rightly asking for, substantial amenities for this proposed dense development. The amenities offered by the applicants, Fatt’s Poultry Farm Ltd., were inadequate. At the meeting on Oct. 6, I summarized before  council several development projects in North Quadra and elsewhere in Saanich, to demonstrate that the public amenities offered here are meager as compared to the amenities offered, and received, by Saanich and community in the past.

Many neighbours and I requested council to pause; review and reduce the density and height and siting variances for townhomes. There were many other concerns with respect to vehicular and truck traffic volume and noise currently experienced by the neighbours.  The lack of bicycle lanes and sidewalks in the area were also noted as major concerns. Many residents suggested that the expanded industrial plant and 42 new residences would exacerbate the current situation; it will make the current situation worse.

The additional amenities sought by the residents were (a) a three-metre right-of-way for future bicycle lanes; and (b) additional sidewalks on Dieppe and Caen from the industrial plant site to Quadra. Also, there was a recommendation to consider a pedestrian-controlled crosswalk at Caen.

The planner’s flawed report was heavily slanted in favour of the development. Council failed to adhere to the Local Area Plan; was completely blind towards the needs and concerns of the residents; and none of the residents’ concerns were listened to or addressed by council.

In their summations many councillors gave a rhetorical lecture about the need to keep the industrial plant and the jobs there; that was, I might add, pure politicking and somewhat condescending because the residents had accepted the proposed industrial plant.

Only Coun. Derman heard the residents’ concerns; he proposed to seek a right-of way for bicycle lanes and more amenities; and voted against the proposed development.

The planner, having deviated from the NQLAP, skated around giving his opinion that the higher density is aspired in the local area plans. I must add that that is a stretch and suggest such higher densities are generally meant for locations near commercial centres, and not at a location such this.

The final outcome here, in my opinion, was a lack of good judgment. It was a wrong decision which left many residents, including myself, totally dismayed and disappointed.

Haji Charania