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

Council roundup: Unbuilding, secondary suites, and that infamous View Royal gondola proposal

Here's what is happening at local councils this week

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

Council roundup: Unbuilding, secondary suites, and that infamous View Royal gondola proposal

Here's what is happening at local councils this week

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

Council roundup: Unbuilding, secondary suites, and that infamous View Royal gondola proposal

Here's what is happening at local councils this week

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Council roundup: Unbuilding, secondary suites, and that infamous View Royal gondola proposal
Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Victoria council discusses "unbuilding" bylaw & fate of planet Earth

Council voted on Thursday to conduct initial readings of a bylaw that aims to encourage deconstruction—the salvaging of reusable and recyclable materials from building demolitions. According to a council report, construction waste is responsible for up to 37% of Victoria’s "landfilled material." The Demolition Waste and Deconstruction bylaw could lead to 3,000 tonnes of wood from demolished single-family homes being repurposed each year, including old-growth wood that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Under the bylaw, permits for certain demolitions would come with a waste-management fee of $19,500. That fee would be refunded to permit holders, provided they salvage a required amount of wood. The bylaw would be implemented in two phases, with the first beginning in September.

Mayor Lisa Helps told councillors that the regional goal for landfill waste by 2030 is 250kg per capita, while the "stretch goal" set by the CRD is 125kg. "The reality is that even in the first few months of this year, we've increased the garbage that we throw into the landfill by 13%," she said. "And we’re at 430kg per capita."

Helps pointed to other jurisdictions, including Vancouver, that have taken steps to put a dent in the amount of construction waste generated by demolitions. Deconstruction, or unbuilding, is "undoubtedly the way of the future," Helps said. "And I think that by implementing [the bylaw] now we're actually saving taxpayer money and, you know, saving the —"

She cut herself off: "I don’t know if the planet can actually be saved, but [we’re] at least helping to move in that direction."

"I think the planet can be saved," Coun. Ben Isitt said, adding, "I think this file is consistent with that work."

"Excellent. Okay, good. I think so too," Helps responded. "But sometimes when I hear about the amount of garbage we just chuck away, I’m thinking, like, I’m not so sure."

Council will decide at its June 23 meeting whether to adopt the bylaw.

Capital Daily covered the rise of unbuilding in a feature story last year.

By Tori Marlan

Oak Bay council advances years-long process of legalizing secondary suites

So far, council has decided that enforcement will be sparked by complaints; that the owner must occupy the home and make it meet health and safety standards; and that the suites have no max or minimum lot size and can be incorporated into single-family residential zones.

Last Monday, council gave staff direction on three remaining issues: parking, caregivers, and how to track the suites. Council decided primary residences can have up to six boarders (i.e. non-owner/leaseholder occupants), including caregivers.

Suites must have a parking space, but a waiver through city staff will be made if the owner can demonstrate they have support for other transportation (e.g. lockable bike storage with power outlet to enable electric bikes).

The next stage for the policy is a public hearing this fall. Read more on the decision last week in Oak Bay Local.

By Ryan Hook

North Saanich evaluates emergency services

At the June 13 special committee of the whole, the Director of Emergency Services presented recommendations (such as considering providing additional on-duty responders at night and determining a minimum standard of training for fire inspectors). Council voted to implement these recommendations, and they will be ratified at tonight’s regular council meeting.

Also on tonight’s agenda are reports on public electric vehicle charging, pickleball noise, and shellfish harvesting.

By Hanna Hett

Sidney approves building on Third, with some concerns

At the regular council meeting on June 13, council approved the construction of a four-storey mixed-use commercial and residential building at 9700 Third. It was approved on the condition that once the property owner is issued a building permit, they pay a deposit of 115% of the estimated cost to complete the hard and soft landscaping for the development.

Two opposed the motion. Coun. Scott Garnett was displeased that there had been numerous variations of the construction development plan, and that he’s yet to see the final version. "I don’t like the fact that we were left out of the loop," he said.

Coun. Terri O’Keeffe was concerned that they had only two parking spaces. While they are set up for handicapped parking, she said "My concern is that the community gets the impression that it’s OK for able-bodied people to park in a spot that’s marked accessible."

By Hanna Hett

View Royal treads cautiously on gondola pursuit

Responding to a proposal for a commuter gondola between Colwood and the Esquimalt naval base, View Royal council will consider contributing $20K towards a pre-feasibility study. The total cost is estimated at $200K, and affected municipalities are being asked to contribute 10%.

However, as View Royal staff noted, neither the Department of Defence nor Parks Canada has voiced support for the project. Since the proposed route affects both parkland and the naval base, staff recommended that council not take action on the request, but simply receive it for information.

Council will also consider implementing the BC Energy Step Code into its building bylaws, starting January 2023. But which step of energy efficiency would be required depends on the type of building.

Subscribe for free to The Westshore (next edition arrives first thing tomorrow) for more on the latest council business in Colwood, View Royal, Highlands, Metchosin, Sooke, and Langford—including recent updates on new challengers for Langford’s council seats.

By Zoë Ducklow

Saanich council sends new fire hall proposal to public hearing

A rezoning application to build a new fire hall on Elk Lake Drive is headed to public hearing. The proposed new fire hall and funding were approved by council in 2019 to replace the current Fire Hall #2, built in 1978. The current hall can only store two apparatus vehicles, however, at least six more vehicles are needed at this location to properly serve the community.

Rendering of proposed fire hall.

Councillors expressed concern about the number of trees that would need to be removed: 96, mostly Garry oaks. Because of Saanich’s resolution to replace trees at a rate of 3:1, 294 replacements would need to be planted (the applicant has proposed to plant 51 on the site).

As part of the consent agenda, council also approved an application to the Canada Community-Building Fund, which could bring in $6M for the project.

Rezoning on Torquay heads to hearing
At the June 13 council meeting, councillors also moved to send a rezoning and development permit application for 4096 Torquay Dr. to public hearing. The application is to rezone the lot to allow for the construction of a five-storey, 86-unit apartment building with underground parking. The allowable building height in this area is three storeys, and the applicant is asking that the extra two storeys be allowed.

Reconciliation contributions floated, but a ways away
One of the final items on the agenda was a motion from Coun. Ned Taylor to direct staff to look into the possibility of implementing an optional Reconciliation Contribution Fund similar to the City of Victoria program (which facilitates voluntary property tax top-ups that go to the local First Nations). Council approved a referral motion to instead bring this item up at the next meeting between the district council and W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, which is not expected until after the October election.

By Jolene Rudisuela

Esquimalt council approves controversial condo development

Last Monday brought a public hearing on the proposal to build The Sterling, a five-storey, 46-unit apartment building at 815 and 825 Selkirk Ave., replacing a pair of single-family homes. The deliberations were among the most difficult in Coun. Jane Vermeulen’s career, she said after the hearing.

Sterling rendering by TLA.

"It’s definitely a controversial development," Vermeulen said. "There’s people living here presently, but we also have to factor in people who will live there in the future." After an hours-long public hearing, council voted 4-2 to move the proposal to third reading, with Couns. Armour and Hundleby opposed.

Most homeowners who live near the site and shared their views at the public hearing last week said they were against the development moving forward as is, mainly due to its size and lack of affordable housing components. Other renters in the area and some who have been priced out of home ownership in the community argued that developments like these are necessary in order to add more affordable housing options to the area.

Esquimalt’s community plan allows for new buildings to be up to six storeys tall. This proposal was originally to be the full six, with 56 units, before being scaled back. At five storeys, TLA Development’s current proposal meets that requirement, but neighbours—many of whom have spoken against it at prior readings and written letters to council asking them to reject the proposal—say it defies part of the OCP that states it’s "essential that new multi-unit residential development not have a negative impact on, or be out of character with, existing residential neighbourhoods."

Critics cite privacy, road capacity, and neighbourhood fit
One person, who lives in a house bordering the proposed development, held back tears as they described how the proposal would remove a 12m Douglas fir from their backyard in order to create new underground parking spaces. She and others in neighbouring properties are also concerned about privacy. "The issue of privacy was raised at both the first and second readings, yet the developers failed to take any significant action to improve privacy for immediate neighbours," she said.

Infrastructure was another concern for community members who say Selkirk Avenue is a "narrow back road" that cannot support the number of additional vehicles that 46 units will bring. Neighbours also argued that though they support other ways of creating density in those two lots—like townhouses—the large five-storey would be out of place in the neighbourhood composed mainly of 100-year-old single-family houses. Some said that the majority (56%) of the proposed units being one-bedrooms is unsuitable for a family-oriented neighbourhood.

Supporters tout options for younger & older locals
Several people spoke in favour, including a man who spoke for his 40-year-old daughter who rents in Esquimalt and can’t afford to buy. "New housing with lower buy-in costs are important," he said. "The people that have houses presently got in there in some cases decades ago and paid a fraction of the present cost. I’m one of those. To have residents say ‘not in my neighbourhood,’ almost sounds like a prejudice."

One person talked about them and their partner wanting to move their aging parents—for whom living in a detached dwelling no longer makes sense—closer to where they live in Esquimalt. For them, Selkirk Apartments would provide an affordable, accessible option.

Ultimately, council decided the proposal would move forward. "At the end of the day, we do need more housing," said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

By Brishti Basu

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