The neighbourhood association representing Cordova Bay approves of plans for a four-storey, 25-unit apartment building in the heart of the neighbourhood, but several locals fear the development will change the area for the worse.
Council voted 8-1 Monday, with Coun. Vic Derman opposed, to schedule a public hearing for the proposal that (if approved) would cover two bordering lots at 986 and 990 Doumac Ave.
Single-family dwellings, Cordova Bay Plaza, Cordova Bay elementary school and other local facilities flank the proposed development site located in the heart of the Cordova Bay Village under Saanich’s Official Community Plan.
It supports multi-family housing of up to four storeys in the area, and the proposed development would be the first of its kind in an area known for its quaint character but currently undergoing changes.
Larry Gontovnick, president of the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs, says his organization supports the development.
“After months of careful consideration and consultations, we believe that this proposal is good for Cordova Bay and agree with council’s decision that it proceeds to public hearing,” he said.
It is not year clear when the public hearing will take place. But several area residents already raised concerns about the impact of the proposed development.
Colin Millard said he believes most people in the area do not appear to support the development, adding that it would bring “a downtown feel” to Cordova Bay that would fail to blend in with the rest of the neighbourhood.
“I think there is a serious undercurrent here [among] people who have commented that in fact we are actually on the wrong path at this particular point,” said Millard, who did not furnish any specific figures measuring opposition to the project.
Jessica Ball said the project along with other developments will only add to the increased traffic in the area.
Area residents already have “grave concerns” about traffic noise, the speed of traffic and growing congestion on Cordova Bay Road, she said.
Local traffic growth has been “extraordinary” and council needs to do more to address traffic at the intersection of Doumac Avenue and Cordova Bay Road and the “grave inadequacy” that currently characterizes public transit in the area, she said, adding that the development should include an area-specific contribution for local transit.
Several councillors acknowledged these traffic issues. Coun. Colin Plant said it is “inevitable” that the district will have to do something about the Doumac Avenue – Cordova Bay Road intersection as redevelopment of the Cordova Bay Plaza continues.
Couns. Judy Brownoff and Vickie Sanders also raised concerns about the project’s proposed amenities, which currently consist mainly of a green rooftop.
Brownoff and Sanders also wondered about the potential visual impact of the proposal.
“I think the building is quite tall for the village,” said Brownoff.
This said, support seemed to outweigh opposition.
“This project has a lot of merit and I look forward to a public hearing to hear from the public,” said Coun. Susan Brice.
Coun. Fred Haynes said the development will help the district address its housing issues and Coun. Leif Wergeland predicted that the project will be “the first of more to come” in the coming years.
Derman was the lone voice of formal opposition, noting that the development is too dense and lacks public amenities.
“I don’t see it as a good template for the area,” he said.
Gontovnick acknowledged the concerns of residents, but noted that the character of the village has and continues to change over the years.
“I can assure that the association is always working for the best interests of the community,” he said. “At one time, the village consisted of only single family homes and some small businesses. Look at Cordova Bay now.”