Wolf Depner’s article regarding Saanich council’s decision to postpone Greater Victoria Housing’s development proposal at Townley Lodge left out a few keys points that perhaps shed a different light on the decision. Council followed due process and their decision shows that this process works to uphold zoning bylaws and community plans.
This development proposal was pushed forward with complete disregard for the Shelbourne Official Community Plan (OCP) and the Local Area Plan (LAP). These plans are developed to offer guidelines for proposed developments within residential neighbourhoods.
“Building height and design should acknowledge the adjacent single family dwellings,” according to the Shelbourne Local Area Plan.
This proposed development in no way acknowledges the adjacent single family homes with which it shares a property line. A four-storey apartment block does not fit into a neighbourhood of one-storey homes; crowding buildings close to the sidewalks and property lines and nearly tripling the population on this size of property does not acknowledge any part of this neighbourhood.
Perhaps if the GVHS had taken the concerns of the residents more seriously and adhered to the OCP and LAP, they would have found more support for the project.
I live in a nearby neighbourhood about eight blocks away and I would not be directly affected by this development, however, I did attend this council meeting. I believe it affects all Saanich residents when local area plans are allowed to be disregarded and precedents set where any development can find approval – affordable housing or otherwise.
I also found Coun. Fred Haynes’ comment irrelevant, if not somewhat disrespectful to these residents. Victoria is not Japan. I do not see how comparing this development being welcomed in Japan has anything to do with it being proposed in Victoria. This is not just a case of ‘satisfying the neighbourhood’, but one of adhering to local area plans already in place and endorsed by council.
Furthermore, an affordable housing development that does not include sufficient greenspace and natural light for its future residents is a disservice to everyone.
I applaud Coun. Vic Derman for speaking out and recognizing that these plans were completely out of the range of the OCP and LAP. The size and scope of the project in no way acknowledges the adjacent homes; requesting rezoning and variances in an area that is not even designated for this kind of a development is shortsighted.
Neither myself, nor the residents who live near Townley Lodge, are opposed to affordable housing in their neighbourhood – it already exists. They are asking for a design that works within the established local area plan and fits into the design and feel of their neighbourhood. I would imagine anyone would ask the same for their own neighbourhood.
Pat Burns Walker