Transportation issues and concerns over building scale gave Esquimalt council enough pause Monday to not send a development proposal for a prominent corner to public hearing.
Lampson Corners calls for 89 units of strata-titled homes in two buildings, one six storeys and one five, to be built on five lots on the sloping northwest corner of Lampson Street and Esquimalt Road. The mix of residences as proposed includes 84 condominiums and five townhouse-style units.
In a 3-2 decision at the March 1 meeting, council gave first and second reading to a motion to move the project forward, but asked the applicant to complete a traffic impact study. The question of preparing for a public hearing was put off until council has a chance to hear the results of the study.
“Between the number of cars and bikes coming and going from the site, and the bus stop right there, I would like to see a traffic study,” said Coun. Meagan Brame. “I need to know that that corner can physically handle the additional traffic.”
Mayor Barb Desjardins voiced concern over the project design calling for removal of the transit bus stop cutout nearby on Esquimalt Road, noting that it could lead to traffic backups westbound. Staff said BC Transit indicated they could work with the change, but the mayor persisted, asking project contractor Graeme Mann whether a cutout could somehow be retained. Mann said it could and would simply mean a smaller front lawn for one of the townhomes.
Couns. Ken Armour and Tim Morrison voted against the main motion, noting various things needed changing before the project went to public hearing.
Referring to the advisory planning commission’s recommendation that the building footprint be adjusted southward, to reduce the shadowing impact on the 2018-built townhome complex just up the hill, Arbour asked whether steps had been taken toward that. Mann replied that the whole project is a different shape than the structure reviewed by the APC and the north setback has been increased.
Council also heard that a bike lane along Lampson could be accommodated, a community use space in the building is being considered for a gym amenity for residents, and that commercial space was never considered for the project, as it would require an official community plan amendment.
The developer is proposing a dedicated Modo car share vehicle on site, with an initial credit for up to 69 per cent of residents, and a single one-year transit pass per unit.
Before the final vote, Arbour and Morrison voiced further concerns. Morrison, said the rear building felt to him like “trying to squeeze five pounds of sugar into a one-pound bag.” He suggested constructing townhouses there instead of a five-storey condo could reduce the massing.
No date was set for the return of the traffic study.