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Saanich townhouse development approved, despite mixed reviews from residents

Whittier Avenue project offers valuable housing type, mature tree removal worries some
A public hearing on March 15 garnered mixed reviews for the development of a townhouse complex at 3450 Whittier Ave. in Saanich. The above rendering is a proposed view of Block A from Harriet Road. (Rendering courtesy of Abstract Developments)

A proposed 23-unit townhouse development in Saanich is receiving mixed reviews from residents – while some view it as a solution for more housing in the district, others are concerned about issues such as the removal of mature trees.

Council moved it forward with unanimous support Tuesday (March 15) after a public hearing.

Saanich resident Arin Wright wrote in to express support for the development at 3450 Whittier Ave., saying it has become increasingly challenging for young people to find opportunities for homeownership in Greater Victoria.

“The project represents a form of housing our community is in dire need of,” Wright wrote. “It provides a transition from condominium living to a realistic opportunity for single-family homeownership.”

Another resident, Alicia Vanhorn, wrote in to express her concern about the height of the three-storey complex, fearing it will be an unsightly addition to the neighbourhood. She also had concerns about the removal of mature trees that are home to many birds and the occasional owl.

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A total of 35 trees will be removed, with the removal of three more still to be determined. The plan calls for 24 trees to be planted on the property, as well as an additional five boulevard trees.

During discussions Coun. Judy Brownoff, who often defends the maintenance of mature trees, spoke of the potential for another heat dome this summer and its relation to the removal of trees on the property. She also asked that plans be put in place by the applicant to protect vulnerable people should there be another severe heatwave.

“I hope that you will reconsider how to get cooling in there for neighbours because I do believe that our climate change issues are impacting more and more people,” Brownoff said. Despite her concerns, she called the development exciting for Saanich residents, overall, and supported it.

According to a staff report, applicant Abstract Developments will aim to retain five maple trees on Harriet Road and ensure service plans are designed to minimize impacts to those trees. A contribution of $5,000 will also be made to the Urban Forest fund from the applicant.

The site also includes a total of 23 electric vehicle plug-ins and there will be a $46,000 contribution to the Saanich Affordable Housing Fund.

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