Saanich residents will have their say on the proposed new 11-storey tower of rental suites at Uptown.
On Monday, council pushed the proposed development for 134 apartments and townhouses to a public hearing. If approved, the peak of the terraced structure will be the tallest building in Saanich, 14 storeys in total, as it will sit on a ‘pedestal’ of three commercial floors.
Among the topics of concern for council and Carol Hamill, president of the Mount View Colquitz Community Association, were a missing affordable housing component as well as a new intersection or crosswalk on Blanshard Street between Ravine Way and Saanich Road.
“People are coming from across all the way from the Nigel Valley (off Darwin Avenue),” Hamill said. “They have a proposed 16-storey building coming, so we’ll need something.”
Hamill reminded council that Morguard’s original plans called for a live-work balance at Uptown but the proposed higher end rental property won’t be affordable for the employees of Uptown.
The residential tower will complete the northwest end of Uptown Boulevard at the corner of Carey Road and Ravine Way. The building will sit next to and above the 40,000 square-foot Whole Foods store and 4,000 square-foot multi-tenant building currently under construction and scheduled to open in fall 2016.
It will be shaped in a U with wings terraced from five to 11 storeys on the north side and three to nine storeys on the south wing.
Coun. Colin Plant echoed Hamill’s concern for affordable housing, citing the Travino in Royal Oak has dedicated suites, in agreement with the Capital Regional Housing Commission.
“Uptown has been a work in progress for nearly a decade and the residential was the most exciting part yet to come,” said Coun. Dean Murdock. “The world has changed a lot from 2007 when Morgurad talked about putting condos in this location. If the condos had happened, we would actually have more housing, but we wouldn’t have had rental, so this a big bonus, it’s a boost.”
Geoff Nagle, director of development for Morguard, said he’d like to see an intersection on Blanshard, or if not, at least a crosswalk, but that he was unaware Saanich expected an affordable housing aspect with major developments.
“We’re an asset management company, real estate management is new to us but we’re certainly open [to affordable housing],” Nagle told council. “And I hate to say it, but one of these days an Uptown customer is going to get hit by a car [jay-walking] Blanshard.”
The rentals will range in size from studio to one-bedroom and two-bedroom suits. There will be seven ground-floor townhomes and an additional 55,000 square feet of retail space.
Murdock also believes the public, Saanich, and Uptown would like to sere a better integration of the Galloping Goose with the intersection at Carey Road and Ravine Way.