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Council roundup: Infill housing, park plans, and a mayoral challenge

Here’s what is happening at local councils this week

Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Council roundup: Infill housing, park plans, and a mayoral challenge

Here’s what is happening at local councils this week

Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Council roundup: Infill housing, park plans, and a mayoral challenge

Here’s what is happening at local councils this week

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Council roundup: Infill housing, park plans, and a mayoral challenge
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Victoria council: James Bay townhomes get hearing despite staff concerns

Although city staff recommended that council decline a request to rezone 557 Simcoe for a proposed development, council voted unanimously on Thursday to move the development proposal forward to a public hearing. The applicant is asking the city to rezone the vacant James Bay site to allow for two separate duplexes to be built on one lot and is seeking a development permit with variances related to height and setbacks.

The proposed buildings each have two units and basement garages, and the site offers little green space. "Vehicle circulation and parking dominate the site," according to a report from Karen Hoese, the director of sustainable planning and community development.

At the committee of the whole meeting, staff told council that while the proposal is generally consistent with the James Bay neighbourhood plan and traditional residential land-use designation, it’s inconsistent with other city policies and design guidelines.

"While this may not be the most desirable use of this lot—and certainly it doesn’t, as it has been pointed out, meet a number of our perhaps preferred policies—" Councillor Marianne Alto said, "it does provide, I think, important housing in this area in a way which is somewhat compatible with adjacent properties and other housing." Like other councillors, she said she wanted to hear from the public before the final deliberation.

Mayor Lisa Helps told council she agrees with the staff analysis. But, she added, "If the public is generally more in favour of space for cars on private lots rather than space for trees and green space and so on, then that’s a decision that we can make accordingly."

By Tori Marlan

Saanich council: Decisions today on housing fast-track and revised park plan

Final vote on plan to speed up OCP-compliant rezonings

At tonight’s council meeting, a number of bylaws will be up for final reading, including a land-use and procedures bylaw that will allow rezoning applications consistent with the Official Community Plan to skip the public hearing stage. This is in an effort to speed up the process of creating new housing.

New fire hall gets hearing next week

Council is also considering a first reading for the rezoning of 4595 and 0 Viewmont to allow for the construction of a new fire station and staff training facility. This application is proceeding to a public hearing on July 12.

Scaled-down Cecelia Creek Falls Park plan

A new, cheaper revised concept for Cecelia Creek Falls Park is also on the agenda. The small, 9,000-square-foot park has a small creek running through it which has been confined to storm drains. In 2009, a feasibility report recommended daylighting (or excavating) the drainage system—which staff say would require the loss of 9-10 trees and could become a garbage dumping ground. Instead, staff are proposing a different plan that would require less excavation and less tree loss.

Cecilia Creek Falls Park. Photo: District of Saanich

Public hearing for Shelbourne-McRae condos

Also this week, the continuation of the previous public hearing will be held on Tuesday at 7pm. This public hearing will be dedicated to a mixed-used rental building development proposal at 1641-1647 McRae and 3226 Shelbourne. It includes 87 units, mainly one-beds with some studios, one-plus-dens, and two-beds.

By Jolene Rudisuela

Westshore councils: Plan for new Colwood hub goes to public hearing

Council advanced the draft plan for the Gateway and Triangle Lands, a new proposed hub for Colwood that would be built over several decades. The hub is at the intersection of Island Highway, Sooke Road, Goldstream Avenue, and the Galloping Goose.

Two councillors voted against it, saying they’re hearing disagreement from landowners in the area. Cynthia Day specifically noted that the Official Community Plan talks about 15-storey buildings, but this vision includes 50-storey buildings. For that reason and others, she and Doug Kobayashi voted against the motion.

Proposed Gateway and Triangle Lands map

Mayor Rob Martin said he disagreed with their comments that not enough consultation has been done, saying that’s precisely what the next step is.

"I’ve heard some at this table talk about us approving a plan this evening. There’s no plan to be approved. What we’re seeking is public input, and I think it's a shame to think that we're going to hide behind closed doors and talk to only the landowners and have them decide how this community gets built rather than taking it to the public."

Incentives for greener construction

Colwood heard from CENiC (Citizens’ Environment Network in Colwood) representative Harley Gordon, who proposed that Colwood incentivize new builds choosing renewable energy options—i.e. not gas. Council agreed to work on a bylaw that would make fossil fuel users do more to offset carbon output in other areas of the building—i.e. insulation or building materials.

If you’re familiar with BC’s Energy Step Code, the rough idea here is that buildings with non-renewable energy sources would have to achieve a higher energy Step Code rating. On the flip side, buildings would get a break on Step Code requirements as a bonus for choosing renewable energy.

Election update: Doug Kobayashi to challenge for mayor

First elected in 2018, he got the most votes among the 11 council candidates. His mayoral platform emphasizes budget restraint. Kobayashi served in the Air Force, was president of the Westshore Chamber of Commerce, and ran for MP as a federal Liberal last fall. In that race Kobayashi apologized for past comments advocating against minimum wage, was the victim of racist defacement of campaign signs, and was beaten comfortably by incumbent Randall Garrison.

By Zoë Ducklow

More on the Colwood mayoral race, the Langford council scandal that began over a parking spot, and Highlands burning restrictions in The Westshore newsletter. Subscribe within to get all your Colwood, View Royal, Langford, Metchosin, Sooke, and Highlands news, from the councils and beyond.

With the cancellation of View Royal’s meeting tomorrow, there are no Westshore council meetings until July 11.

Oak Bay council: Focus on District’s housing and infrastructure deficits

Oak Bay seeks new patio permit process

BC’s temporary expanded serve area program—which allows pop-up street and sidewalk patios—is set to expire next spring. In the meantime, Oak Bay council has put a call-out for proposals to help it create a new permit process for this.

Safety upgrades for McNeill Avenue next year

Council tasked municipal staff with the planning; they will deliver a report in late 2022. They plan to keep street parking and slow down drivers with raised crosswalks, and may remove the centre line.

Bigger public works team to tackle aging infrastructure

Council approved a plan to hire five more public works employees, at a cost of $700k. Daniel Horan, director of engineering and public works, presented the plan to council last Monday. He said that with nearly 25km of pipe set to fail in the next decade, a dedicated project team is needed.

About $274M of the district’s water, sanitary sewer, storm, and road assets are past their useful life, and Oak Bay’s goal is to replace all overdue infrastructure in the next 25 years.

Survey respondents want more infill housing

At a late-June Committee of the Whole, Oak Bay looked at the results of its walk-and-talk sessions and public survey on housing. According to the survey, 86% of respondents want apartments near amenities and transit; 89% want secondary suites; 83% want larger lots subdivided into smaller lots; and 77% would like to see infill housing in all areas of Oak Bay, including the less-dense Uplands.

The highest levels of housing dissatisfaction were among seniors and those around age 20s—the two demographics most impacted by a lack of housing.

Secondary suite plan details criticized

Oak Bay recently moved to legalize secondary suites later this year, a move that has been called for for years to help give renters more options and more protection. But the particular way it was done has been criticized for suite-permitting requirements around providing either parking or active transportation infrastructure such as e-bike charging. A reduction or change to these requirements narrowly failed to pass at council.

Read more at Oak Bay Local on those requirements and the challenge to them, plus stories on how dogs threaten local migratory bird sanctuaries, the trial of Andrew Berry, local fraud attempts, and a new Lekwungen history walking tour. And if you want more in-depth Oak Bay news every week, subscribe within.

By Ryan Hook and Cam Welch

Peninsula council roundup: Sidney adopts new Official Community Plan

After 18 months of engagement and work on the official community plan (OCP), it was adopted at Sidney’s regular council meeting on June 27. This marks the first OCP overhaul since 2007, and establishes the municipality’s direction more clearly than its predecessor in several ways. One of the key elements of the new OCP is the multi-unit residential designation, which would allow for residential buildings up to six storeys in some areas.

Photo: Martin Bauman / Capital Daily

Councillor Scott Garnett opposed both its third reading and its adoption, saying that he was concerned about the impact that a multi-unit residential designation would have on current West Side residents.

"I’m not comfortable," Garnett said, "having these size of buildings have that kind of impact on people that have lived for decades, in some cases."

Councillor Peter Wainwright pointed out that the West Side area plan had gone through a robust process of public engagement before their OCP deliberations. He also added that the OCP isn’t an automatic greenlight—future councils will still have to go through rezoning processes.

"To say now, ‘let’s pull the plug on the public hearing, and restart the clock, and do this again.’ Sorry. I’m not prepared to waste that kind of money," he said.

Read more on Sidney's OCP and the challenges the town faces around density in our feature story.

North Saanich

North Saanich will have a regular council meeting on July 11 and also an in-camera special meeting of council on the same day.

By Hanna Hett

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