Letter: Former Mayfair Lanes site needs density, says ex-Saanich councillor

A single low-density store on Douglas corridor is poor land use, says former councillor

The site of the old Mayfair Lanes bowling alley has sat empty and silent since 2005.

It is an important piece of property, situated between the two busiest transportation corridors in the region ( the TCH and Blanshard Street ) and identified in Saanich’s OCP as areas for increased density.

A few years ago when I was on Saanich Council, two planners from Loblaws in Toronto came out to discuss the future of the site.

I tried to convince them to not only build their Superstore, but to increase the density by adding maybe a couple of floors of office space above the store, and up to eight storeys of residential units.

Their answer was that the company was only interested in a single-store configuration for that site, and so it sits to this day.

Unfortunately, before I was elected to Saanich Council in 2008, a previous Council granted Loblaws a Development Permit for the site, meaning that future Councils could place few restrictions on the development, so Loblaws would be quite within their rights to build a store which would allow minor revisions to parking and siting only.

Land cost is the single most expensive component of any construction, whether residential, commercial or industrial, and a single low-density store on that site is poor land use.

The Douglas Street corridor is being upgraded for rapid bus use, with the prospect of LRT in the future. We need more commercial and residential density built on our major transportation corridors, for sustainability, vibrancy and to combat sprawl.

There are many low-density sites on Douglas Street in Saanich and Victoria, and I hope that both municipalities start to implement the policies and guidelines set out in their respective OCP’s and the Regional Growth Strategy that pertain to land use and transportation connectivity.

Paul GerrardSaanich Councillor, 2008-2014