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Public hearing sees Saanich residents voice support, concerns about University Heights development

Split vote by council will see decision to underground hydro lines go to final hearing
Plans are in the works for a major redevelopment of the University Heights Shopping Centre on Shelbourne and McKenzie. (Photo courtesy Wesbild Holdings Ltd.)

Council has approved the rezoning and redevelopment of University Heights on Nov. 16 to move to a final hearing in the coming weeks.

Wesbild’s redevelopment proposal for the University Heights Shopping Centre will include affordable rental housing, a grocery store, an expanded Home Depot, and more.

Those itching to have their say on the development were able to contribute at the Nov. 16 public hearing.

Several issues were raised at the meeting, such as leveraging this development to support more housing in the municipality, addressing the need for denser housing, and bike lane improvements.

One resident who lives in the Tillicum Gorge area, Edward Pullman, voiced his support for this application while also drawing attention to the need he sees for denser housing.

“As council is no doubt aware, we are in need of purpose-built rental housing in the area,” said Pullman, who added that population growth figures are concentrated on the West Shore with comparatively little population growth occurring in Saanich.

“I want to see density within our core and density close to amenities – close to post-secondary institutions, work centres, shopping centres – there is no better location in our municipality than Shelbourne and McKenzie,” he said.

One anonymous Saanich resident wrote in to voice their disapproval of the development of micro-units. Of the total 597 total rentals, 177 will be micro homes.

“The proposal doesn’t fit with the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan to encourage family-oriented, multi-family housing around schools encouraging three-bedroom units with family-oriented amenities.”

Joe Harris, an avid cyclist and high school student, said he is supportive of the project especially because of the bike lane installations underway. He said that he uses Shelbourne regularly to get wherever he needs to go and will appreciate feeling safer along the improved route.

“I’m also a student at Reynolds and I will be going to university in a few years so I think the affordable housing is awesome, too,” said Harris.

ALSO READ: Split vote by Saanich council sends amended plan for University Heights to public hearing

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