This rendering shows plans for a five-storey, 39-unit rental apartment building geared towards seniors, with three units aimed at low-income seniors. The proposed location of the development is near Gorge Shopping Centre with Cuthbert Holmes Park less than a kilometre to the northwest. Submitted.

Saanich grants public hearing to senior housing proposal

Five-storey rental apartment would add 39 units near Cuthbert Holmes Park

Saanich has signalled its support for a five-storey rental apartment building near Cuthbert Holmes Park, but with some reservations.

Council meeting as a committee-of-the-whole Monday scheduled a public hearing for plans by Hillel Architecture to build a five-storey rental building with 39 units geared towards seniors, with three units aimed at low-income seniors. This said, the public also heard that the development could cater to a different market segment after 10 years, while remaining a rental apartment.

The proposed development — which would make use of a new land use zone — would consolidate three single-family units between Gorge Road West to the south and Obed Avenue to the north near the Fairway Market and the Gorge Shopping Centre.

Tillicum Centre and Pearkes Recreation Centre lie less than half a kilometre to the north of the proposed site with Cuthbert Holmes Park less than a kilometre to the northwest.

According to a staff report, the Official Community Plan (OCP) supports a range of housing types, including low-rise residential developments up to four storeys in height — one below the requested rezoning under the new RA-10 apartment zone. The application also includes variance requests for setbacks, (building) projection, height and parking.

Coun. Colin Plant said the submitted application meets the standard of going to a public hearing. But he also asked the applicant Hillel Architecture to clarify four issues prior to the public hearing: the ability to accommodate solar panels, the ability to accommodate a charging station for electric cars, the question of whether the development will charge future residents without cars for parking, and the economics of the units.

Coun. Leif Wergeland picked up on this final point, when he expressed reservations about the applicant — rather than a third-party — managing the three affordable units.

“I would like to see somebody else manage it,” said Wergeland.

Overall, council was generally supportive of the project and many of its features, including its location, its social room, its live-in-care-taker, and its affordable housing component.

“I would like to complement the applicant for bringing forward this application,” said Coun. Fred Haynes.

The proposal also enjoyed support from the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, which had been working with the developers for several years.

“We look forward to seeing this project go ahead, as soon as possible,” said Rob Wickson, past president of the community association.

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