A large residential development plan in Sooke’s town core received a green light from district council this week, despite reservations from area residents.
After several residents wrote letters and made a public hearing presentation on Monday, council gave third reading to a zoning amendment bylaw allowing the developer to build 133 residential units at 2182 Church Rd. Council is expected to give the fourth and final reading to the bylaw in January.
Aragon Properties proposes to develop 4.2 hectares of farmland along Church Road and Wadams Way.
The development will include 78 townhouse units and 54 single-family houses. The single-family lots are a minimum of 250 square metres (2,691 square feet) with a maximum lot coverage of 60 per cent.
Sooke resident Ellen Lewers said the lot size was too small.
“We simply cannot put any more cars on the road, and we must not crowd houses together on such a sensitive area,” she said.
Lewers and others also stressed the need to protect a sensitive waterway around the development.
Several residents voiced their concern about the amount of available parking.
“As you know, parking is always an issue when new developments happen, and the small lot size and increased density are very problematic,” wrote Sooke resident Pete McKay. “Not only does it make it difficult to drive and park, [but] it also makes it unsafe for children playing in the neighbourhood and walking to schools that are nearby.”
In a report to council, district staff said the developer is meeting the minimum parking requirements. Additional parking will provide 31 on-street parking stalls, and the townhouses will accommodate two to three parking stalls.
Other aspects of the development include improved pedestrian infrastructure in the area, a signalized crosswalk on Wadams Way, land for a roundabout at Church and Throup roads and a cash contribution, public access to green space including a small dog park, $133,000 cash-in-lieu contribution for affordable housing, and rain gardens.
Aragon Properties has redesigned and improved the subdivision design several times over the last several months at the district council’s request. Most of council was pleased with the effort, as the district moves to develop the town centre.
“I’m sad this farmland was rezoned in the first place, but at the same time, I realize the town centre needs this development,” Coun. Tony St-Pierre said. “The developer showed a great deal of respect for the site and wishes of the community.”
But Coun. Al Beddows still has reservations.
“I’m still not happy with the lot size going [down to 250 square metres]. It’s a very, very small area. You can’t even grow a turnip on it.”
Mayor Maja Tait was among council members who wanted to see the development go ahead.
“We could be seeing something much different if the original zoning stayed in place,” she said, stressing the need for economic development in the area.”