Only technicalities remain before work on this townhouse complex with 16 units near Royal Jubilee Hospital can begin following a public hearing Tuesday. Submitted

COUNCIL BRIEFS: Saanich all but ratifies townhouse complex near hospital

Saanich Cenotaph could be on the move

A group of Saanich residents are questioning the efficacy of public input after Saanich council approved a townhouse development with 16 units near Jubilee Hospital.

Deanne Pfeiffer said in an interview Wednesday the development represents a major change to the neighbourhood. “We do need to densify,” she said. “We just can’t believe how they [members of council] had no regard.”

Pfeiffer made these comments after council all but ratified plans for the development by Abstract Development plans to at the intersection of Richmond Road and Kings Roads. Council had signalled its support earlier by sending it to Tuesday’s public hearing during which a majority of speakers voiced opposition.

Opponents area raised familiar concerns about the size of the development and increased traffic. Pfeiffer Tuesday acknowledged the need for infilling and said she would not oppose something smaller. “I think it is just too big, and it raises huge concerns for me about traffic on our street,” she said.

Isabel Cordua-von Specht said in a letter that development with its 11 variances sets a dangerous precedent. Others raised concerns about the impact on local trees. “If you approve this development, every significant tree but one of these properties will have to be removed,” said Hans de Goede in a letter.

But these concerns did not sway councillors, whose support was unanimous.

Coun. Colin Plant said the choice for him was between the greater good of Saanich and the concerns of neighbourhood. These decisions are difficult, he said.

Coun. Dean Murdock acknowledged the concerns of neighbours. “Council appreciates the benefit of your input, and I know…that these proposals are improved by the benefit of their input. I know that there will be folks, who will be disappointed with the outcome, but I do want you to feel reassured that council has heard your concerns.”

Council instructed staff to study traffic in the area after residents had raised concerns.

Saanich’s Cenotaph could be on the move — or not.

Council Monday asked staff to prepare a report that would outline various options on moving the structure from Municipal Hall to a location that would be “more prominent, safe, and accessible” in the words of Coun. Colin Plant.

Plant said the current location can be very crowded during Remembrance Day celebrations. But Saanich should not make a rash decision about the structure, he said. Saanich should have all the facts on the table before making any decision.

“We are just trying to make this a better experience,” said Mayor Richard Atwell.

This said, the report would also investigate options to improve the current location. “I don’t see this is a problem,” said Coun. Leif Wergeland. “I would see this as an opportunity to do better.”

Staff will also consider how the ceremony unfolds, which lies outside Saanich’s direction. “It’s the military’s show,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders.

Coun. Judy Brownoff used the occasion to remind her colleagues that Saanich has already passed its budget and the public heard that the report will not be ready before this year’s ceremony.

Council considered the issue after receiving a letter from Stanley Brygadyr, a veteran, who has recommended that Saanich move the Cenotaph to the south portion of Cedar Hill Park. The location would be more visible, accessible and spacious, he said.

In time for an upcoming memorial, Saanich has renamed a local softball diamond.

Softball Diamond #5 in Layritz Park will now bear the name of Jenna Hiser, who died on May 22.

Hiser had served as president of Layritz Little League for the last six years and spearheaded Layritz’s successful bid to host the 2020 Little League Baseball Canadian Championships.

“Jenna Hiser made a significant contribution to community sports in Saanich,” said Suzanne Samborski, director of parks and recreation.

Layritz Little League has planned a memorial for her on Sunday, June 24.

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