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Victoria council to debate John A. MacDonald statue and 902 Foul Bay Road rezoning

Controversial issues are left on council's agenda in its final weeks

By Shannon Waters
September 22, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Victoria council to debate John A. MacDonald statue and 902 Foul Bay Road rezoning

Controversial issues are left on council's agenda in its final weeks

By Shannon Waters
Sep 22, 2022
James MacDonald / Capital Daily
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.

Victoria council to debate John A. MacDonald statue and 902 Foul Bay Road rezoning

Controversial issues are left on council's agenda in its final weeks

By Shannon Waters
September 22, 2022
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Victoria council to debate John A. MacDonald statue and 902 Foul Bay Road rezoning
James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Victoria city council has a busy day ahead of them with several hot button items on the agenda for today’s trio of meetings. After today, the current council has only two more meetings scheduled before this year’s local elections.

The future of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue, which has spent four years in storage, could be decided and the contentious redevelopment proposal for 902 Foul Bay Road, which Capital Daily covered in depth in 2021, is set to take its next steps.

A new home for the Macdonald statue?

The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that council voted to remove from its plinth outside city hall in 2018 could be going back to the historical society that originally donated it—with some conditions—if council agrees with recommendations from Mayor Lisa Helps and Councillor Charlayne Thornton Joe. 

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The pair have recommended council grant the Sir John A Macdonald Historical Society’s request to return the statue, at the city's expense, provided the society agrees “to safeguard the statue and not seek a place of public display.” If it were to be put up in public again somewhere on Vancouver Island, Helps and Thornton Joe want the society to seek approval from the local Nation or Nations on whose territory it would stand and to include “the fullest possible educational and contextual information concerning the individual portrayed, his time, his policies, and their consequences” as part of any public display.

The proposed terms for the statute’s return would also require the society to restrict itself and any donors to only making public statements that are “highly supportive of the reconciliation process” and would be coordinated with Victoria’s mayor and the leadership of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.

Controversial townhouse proposal up for public hearing

Council’s evening meeting will include a public hearing on Aryze Developments’ proposal to redevelop the currently vacant lot at 902 Foul Bay Road into two three-storey buildings with a parking lot, a playground, and bicycle parking.

The heritage estate has been vacant since 2016 when a fire destroyed a house on the half-acre property. Aryze’s proposal has received considerable pushback from neighbours, who have cited concerns the project would increase traffic, require the removal of mature trees and fail to adequately address affordability issues. 

At a December 2020 meeting of the city’s Community Land Use Committee to discuss the project, 57 people showed up, 24 of whom spoke to the proposal: 16 in opposition to the project, seven in support, and one undeclared.

Council voted unanimously to approve Aryze’s heritage alteration application for the property at the September 1 committee of the whole meeting, while preserving the heritage designation of the stone wall with an iron gate that borders the property. The housing agreement for the development—meant to ensure most of the units proposed for the development can be rented, with the exception of the four below-market units—also received unanimous support from council. Both applications are up for adoption, pending the public hearing. 

Aryze submitted updated plans to the city in July, seeking variances to reduce setbacks, increase the proposed building height by 1m to 11.5m, and cut the number of parking stalls from 27 to 14 while reducing short-term bike parking to four spots from 12. This evening’s meeting will give the public a chance to weigh in on the proposed changes before council makes a decision—or punts the project forward to the next mayor and council.

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Shannon Waters
Municipal affairs reporter
contact@capitaldaily.ca

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