Rockland neighbours brought out the signs and their vocal cords Sunday on Fort Street in front of the former Truth Centre.
Protesting a proposal for a multi-phase condominium and townhome development at 1201 Fort St. and along Pentrelew Place, the neighbours garnered honks from passing motorists for signs that read I Want Trees in my Future, and Stop Over Development, Respect Neighbourhoods.
People in the area are upset with Abstract Developments, whose proposal calls for construction of six- and four-storey condo buildings, as well as 10 townhomes. While some neighbours say the scale and style of the project is not in keeping with the neighbourhood, others worry about the precedent that removing most of the mature, protected trees on the property would set.
“Our real concern is that the proposal that they’ve come back with almost ignored council’s suggestions … about massing and height and preserving the privacy of neighbours,” said Phil Calvert, a Craigdarroch Road resident and member of the Rockland Neighbourhood Association.
He also worries that the development doesn’t address the need of housing for families in Victoria.
Abstract president Mike Miller said later in an interview that not only does the city’s official community plan call for density to be created in the area, the project as proposed is far below the floor space ratio that the site could potentially handle. Revisions to the plan have shifted more density to the Fort Street side of the property, he added.
As for creating family housing, Miller noted his company builds one rental unit for every market housing unit it constructs in the region.
Abstract and its development team are hosting a public open house for the project on Tuesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fairfield Hall, 1303 Fairfield Rd. Miller said the open house will be the 18th community engagement meeting held for the project since his company purchased the property.
Of 51 trees catalogued on the site, the company shows 23 as bylaw protected and 28 not protected. Nine protected trees would come down, as well as 19 non-protected, with 18 new trees replacing the nine removed, as per city bylaws. Because the project aims to save 23 existing trees, Miller said, “it’s allowed us to bring the access off of Fort Street.”
Pentrelew Place resident Don Hamilton said residents don’t feel they’ve been listened to by Abstract on issues of neighbourhood scale or design. “They’ve got an agenda that is quite different than ours,” he said.
While city council will have the final say on the project – the proposal has yet to be sent to public hearing – Calvert is not placing all his trust in the elected officials.
“We can’t just leave it to city council, we have to make sure they understand what our views are and that we’re still unsatisfied and don’t want to let this go,” he said.