Illustration of the proposed Cordova Bay shopping centre and condo buildings, looking from a redesigned Cordova Bay Road. Image from Alan Lowe Architect

LETTER: Proposal for Cordova Bay Plaza not approved yet

“Residents of Saanich need to know all the details with regards to this project as if approved, the ramifications will be wide spread”

I would like to provide comment on your article regarding the Cordova Bay Plaza (Saanich News, Jan. 19),

The article indicates that Saanich Planning has approved the project. This is incorrect. Saanich planning makes recommendations on development proposals for Council to consider. Ultimately, it is mayor and council who either approve or reject the proposal.

I would also like to point out that the proposal as currently presented is vastly different than what was originally approved in the development permit back in 1998. The architect for the project at the time, Mr. Alan Lowe, is the same for the current proposal. At the Council meeting in 1998, Mr. Lowe is on record as stating that he was aware of the Cordova Bay Village development permit area guidelines, and that his project was designed to meet the 7.5 metre height restriction. Nothing within the DPA guidelines has changed, so why after being reminded of the 7.5 metre height restriction in a letter to him from Saanich Planning has he continued to promote this project as being appropriate?

The C3 zoning designation which applies to the subject lands, allows building heights up to 15 metres with a density of up to 1.2 FSR. However, as the DPA guidelines indicate that the maximum building height cannot exceed 7.5 metres. The wording of the zoning indicates flexibility with the conditions to comply with DPA guidelines as it does not state that building must be a specific height.

The Planning Department promotes their opinion that the Official Community Plan is a more contemporary document, and therefore overrules the LAP and DPA guidelines. The OCP is Appendix A of the document “Sustainable Saanich” Appendices B through M are the various community Local Area Plans, with Appendix N being the Development Permit Area guidelines. All appendices were adopted as Bylaw #8940 in July of 2008, therefore they carry the same effective date.

Appendix A – the Official Community Plan, provides information in broad strokes, as to the vision of Saanich for the future. The OCP specifically directs the reader to the LAP’s and DPA guidelines for specific conditions and restrictions unique to each community. The LAP’s and DPA guidelines were developed after extensive and intensive consultation with members of all communities which they represent.

This raises a very important question. Why is Saanich embarking on an expensive and time consuming course to revise all 12 of the Local Area Plans, if at a later date, the contents can be dismissed in favour of outside opinion? If the OCP does in fact override the conditions contained within the LAP and DPA guidelines, what is the need to go through the process to revise them?

No one will disagree that the Plaza is long overdue for replacement. However, any design proposal must meet the needs of the community and also comply with the current regulations in effect.

The outcome of this project will have effects beyond Cordova Bay itself. It will tell developers that anything goes, that restrictions and expectations contained within LAP’s and DPA guidelines can be ignored anywhere in Saanich.

It is my opinion that clarification of items within the recent Saanich News article on the plaza need to be made. The article gives the reader the impression that the plaza design has been approved in its current form. The residents of Saanich need to know all the details with regards to this project as if approved, the ramifications will be wide spread.

Thank you for your consideration of the information which I have provided you and look forward to a follow up article which provides more details of the issues surrounding this project.

Steve Corner

Saanich

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