Plans for two six-storey rental buildings that would add 235 units to the Marigold neighbourhood in Central Saanich are on hold until mid-February following public input Monday.
Mayor Ryan Windsor and Couns. Zeb King and Bob Thompson voted to postpone consideration of the development permit with variances for Starlight Developments’ proposal for 2515 Hackett Cres. off Lochside Drive.
Couns. Carl Jensen and Gordon Newton voted against postponement, Coun. Niall Paltiel recused himself from the vote, having previously cited a non-pecuniary conflict of interest, and Coun. Chris Graham was absent.
This second phase of the planned neighbourhood is proposed for a site south of the five-storey, 38-unit condominium building already completed. Third-phase plans call for a six-storey, 50-unit condo building along with 14 townhouses.
The current proposal drew considerable interest and correspondence from the public prior to Monday’s meeting, with the majority of submissions opposed.
Critics have voiced concerns about the height of the buildings, the large increase in units from the initial proposal, the change from a townhouse/condominium project to two large apartment buildings, the switch from owned units to rentals, and related parking and traffic safety issues.
Staff clarified the proposed number of units is approximately 70 units more than the original plan, noting the first proposal was a concept that lacked firm numbers.
Ferguson Road resident Doug Fluker wrote the proposed increase in density (alongside growth in the nearby Tsawout First Nation community) would substantially impact the area and called on council to remember existing area homeowners. “As for the building itself, it will be quite a daunting structure for the neighbourhood,” he said.
Current Marigold residents Alison and Bradley Marshall echoed this concern.
“When we purchased our townhome, we did it with an expectation and understanding of the approved plans by the District of Central Saanich,” they wrote. “While we understand this is a new developer and can support some changes to the plan, the amount and impact of these proposed changes are too significant and pose a risk to public safety.”
Mayor Ryan Windsor later told Black Press that deferral will give council time to process the various issues raised.
“There is quite a lot there that I think most of council felt merited more time to process,” he said. “If it does move forward, how does it move forward? I think those things need some time.”
Discussions about the development resume at council Feb. 14.
After the meeting Jensen said council should have issued the development permit Monday.
“We had the opportunity and I certainly was prepared to do that,” he said. “I’d like to see this process move forward as soon as possible.”
While the rental project will not solve all of Central Saanich’s housing problems, it can make a massive dent in it, Jensen said, adding the municipality cannot afford more delays.
“In my mind, the clock is ticking,” he said, suggesting this is a test of the district’s commitment to supplying more housing. “This is a massive opportunity for Central Saanich and we should be embracing it.”
As for resident concerns about the scaled-up nature of the development, Jensen questioned where the additional units should go. “Would you like to see us to start removing farms from the ALR?” he asked rhetorically.
Windsor cautioned against reading too much into the deferral. “My interpretation is that council decided it is reasonable to take some time to absorb what we heard last night before we make a final decision.”
Andrew Browne, senior development manager, West Coast for Starlight, said the company recognizes councils often need more time to consider the many aspects of a development.
Browne pointed out the project would meet 42 per cent of the anticipated new housing demand (557 units) for the period 2020-2025 as identified in the Capital Regional District Housing Needs Assessment for Central Saanich.
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