Second incarnation of Gardiners Green project passes first hurdle

A 56-unit apartment and 22-home townhouse complex in University Heights got the first nod of approval by Saanich council Monday night.

A 56-unit apartment and 22-home townhouse complex in University Heights got the first nod of approval by Saanich council Monday night.

Gardiners Green, in its second incarnation before council, will create density on both Shelbourne Street and Cedar Hill Road, and brings with it some public amenities praised by councillors.

Among the highlights are a park fronting Shelbourne and a multi-use path connecting the two streets so pedestrians won’t have to trek to Feltham Road or McKenzie Avenue to travel east-west.

Additionally, councillors commended the applicant on improved setbacks from the road, a reduction in the number of apartment units (from 64) and a comprehensive transportation demand management plan that aims to encourage residents not to own cars.

But comments from a handful of residents who voiced concern at the meeting regarding increased traffic, decreased views and poor community consultation didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Councillors asked that before a public hearing is held, the applicant conduct a traffic impact assessment, a shadow study and hold an additional meeting in the community.

“I’d rather have 50 neighbours (at public hearing) saying they’re opposed but they were consulted, than 50 who weren’t consulted,” said Coun. Paul Gerrard.

Coun. Vicki Hunter suggested that the ongoing plans for a more comprehensive blueprint for Shelbourne’s future should be completed before development is approved.

Coun. Wayne Hunter, however, acknowledged that this development brings with it the type of density that council will inevitably want in urban centres.

“It will enhance our discussion of change,” he said. “That’s what’s making people squirm in their seats, both us, as councillors, and the neighbours.”

Council unanimously supported moving the rezoning application to a public hearing.

Get yourself notified

When neighbours complained about not being well-informed on the application, Coun. Leif Wergeland suggested Saanich look into better notification processes.

As it is right now, any application that comes before council must first be approved at a Committee of the Whole meeting, then at a Public Hearing. The public has an opportunity to comment at both meetings.

To be notified about when any specific development in the municipality comes to council, contact the legislative division (250-475-5494 Ext. 3507) and ask to be put on the municipality’s mailing list for that particular application.

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