Plans for plaza don’t fit in with neighbourhood

Saanich council should send Cordova Bay Plaza developer back to drawing board

Last month former Victoria mayor Alan Lowe, in his architect’s rolled-up sleeves, brought his display boards to give us a sight of totally alarming schematic plans and elevations for the long awaited rework of Cordova Bay Plaza.

The development is not in tune with this area of calm and tranquility, and not in tune with a historic area, still used today for community events.  The old shade tree goes to the dump and that is just the start of it; alarming is not strong enough.

Besides being totally out of tune with community, I am very concerned as this plan offers an extraordinary glass and concrete four-plus storey ‘downtown approach’ smack in the centre of this historic low-scale community.  I’m afraid there is absolutely nothing suggesting this is a suitable addition to this sensitive Saanich neighbourhood.

Look at the scale of the impressive and much loved Cordova Bay Estates, right next door.  A perfect community for retirees and others who need the single-level townhomes.  They are single storey, with condos against the bank at the rear of the site. Most people have no idea there are condos in that development. But what is Saanich being offered with the plaza?  Four plus storeys of walls, with balconies and windows right up to the boundary and overlooking the serene, tranquil Cordova Bay Estates. And the plans then continue along Cordova Bay Road.

There is no excuse for this. It is wrong in every possible way. Saanich council must say no to this as soon as possible.

It is hard to believe anyone in the Saanich planning department would have given even one moment of encouragement to this project.  This is the puzzle Saanich council has to solve. The ‘70s zoning given to these lands was, even then, a very strange deal. However, today the owners are marching on with this zoning, and from the plans to date we have a major catastrophy on our hands.

I am concerned as a project manager and planner that in its current form Saanich has a disaster in the making. It also has a fight on its hands. There were and are many other ways to design within the current zoning.

I wholeheartedly support Saanich and the Cordova Bay Association in sending this proposal back to the drawing board, and even examining the possibility of the toughest of things, that is to change the present zoning.

Colin Millard

Saanich