Councillor optimistic for Townley compromise

Colin Plant believes Saanich affordable housing project could receive council approval if its reduced to three storeys

This rendering shows the Greater Victoria Housing Society’s proposed development for Townley Lodge.

A Saanich councillor says he still believes an affordable housing project currently in the balance could go ahead — if the project reduces its proposed height.

Coun. Colin Plant made these comments after the Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS) said it is considering the sale of Townley Lodge, an affordable housing complex that it has owned and operated since 1967.

Selling Townley Lodge ranks among the “three most viable options” facing the GVHS after Saanich council unanimously postponed a public hearing for plans to redevelop the complex, Kaye Melliship, the executive director of the non-profit society, said last week.

Council postponed the public hearing on the project after residents had raised concerns about the plans GVHS had submitted for Townley Lodge.

It was planning to replace 39 low-income rental units for seniors with 67 affordable housing units for seniors, families and the disabled across four housing types, including a four-storey apartment building.

Plant said that he was “obviously disappointed” that GVHS has been thinking about selling the property,“but they have to do what is best for their organization.”

He, however, believes that a revised version of the project could go ahead.

“If they were to come back with a three-storey [building], that is likely something that the community could support,” he said.

Sandi Menzies, president of the Camosun Community Association, echoed that point.

“From our perspective, it [height] is the major concern,” she said.

Menzies predicted that the neighbourhood association and local residents “would likely support” the project if the GVHS were to take one storey off the proposed four-storey apartment and set it farther back on the side facing the community.

While Menzies acknowledged that such a move would reduce the amount of available units, specific details could be worked out in the future.

GVHS has said in the past that their proposal as presented last month represents the best reconciliation of its mandate to supply affordable housing in light of financial realities.

Menzies stressed that her organization, which opposes the project, and other critics are not against affordable housing per se. She said the association along with opposed neighbours have had a “good rapport” with Townley Lodge and its residents for decades.

“And because we have lived with it for so many years, we are not against [affordable housing],” she said.

Citing the lack of affordable housing, Saanich staff expressed support for the project. Menzies and critics, however, have argued that approval would undermine local areas. “It was almost as if affordable housing trumped local area plans,” she said.

Plant said staff was responding to council’s desire to see more affordable housing. But GVHS, Plant said, was asking council to do more than approve a development permit.

It was asking for zoning variances, variances that require community support in addition to council’s formal approval.

“It has to be a good fit,” he said. “We don’t want winners or losers.”

Plant said he remains hopeful that the GVHS would not abandon the project and retain at “a bare minimum”  current operations. “The idea of selling would be very unfortunate,” he said.

The ball, though, he says, is now in the “court” of the GVHS.

Menzies echoed that point.

 

“The community association cannot dictate what the GVHS does,” she said.

 

 

Just Posted

Province rejects criticism from Saanich councillor over McKenzie Interchange

Transportation ministry says project will ‘significantly lower’ greenhouse gas emissions

UPDATE: Father on trial for murder describes being ‘tackled’ and ‘stabbed’ in Oak Bay apartment

Oak Bay father takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

Police rule out foul play in death of man found in Saanich

The B.C. Coroners Service will now conduct an investigation

West Shore RCMP snag suspected thief with bait bike

GPS-equipped bike leads police to arrest suspect in Langford

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town hit by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

Most Read