A large residential/commercial development proposal that would straddle Veterans Memorial Parkway in Colwood is under fire from people looking to preserve the feel of the neighbourhood and protect Havenwood Park, which would border it.
Wishart Gardens is part of a multi-phased project by BC-Alta Development that began construction along a 20-acre corridor in 2015 starting at 3476 Wishart Rd. The current application for two sections of land bordering the park’s north edges – phase 3 of the development – seeks a zoning change to allow more density.
The developer wishes to construct up to 240 apartment units in four six-storey towers amidst an existing forest on the larger, western portion of land bordering Langford, and 100 apartments in two buildings along with restaurant and food retail space, a medical clinic and a pharmacy on the smaller lot east of Veteran’s Memorial Parkway. Current zoning allows for 21 single family homes on the large section and 30 apartments on the smaller one.
An online petition, Preserve Havenwood, says the project violates the city’s official community plan in multiple areas and encourages petitioners to write mayor and council.
Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said this phase of the development is far from a done deal. The rezoning application was submitted to the planning department in December 2020, he said, and it will be weeks before it comes to council’s committee of the whole for initial discussion.
“I think some members of the public are looking at the proposal and assuming it’s already been approved,” he said.
Martin explained that in 2014 council broke the original development proposal into phases.
“What we were concerned with as a city was we didn’t want the whole area to be clearcut right next to Havenwood Park, and then development to stop,” he said, pointing to other major projects that stalled in the city around that time. The developer was required to complete at least 50 per cent of one phase before the next could begin, Martin said.
Barb van Sacken, land protection co-ordinator with the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), said both HAT and The Land Conservancy hold conservation covenants on Havenwood Park. The groups work to ensure terms of the covenant relating to the ecological health and condition of the park are maintained, she said.
Wendy Tyrell, habitat management co-ordinator for HAT, voiced concerns about the potential impact on the park of the project at the original public hearing in late 2014 when a comprehensive zone was created for the entire 20 acres.