This artist’s rendering courtesy of Alan Lowe Architect shows plans for the re-development of a commercial lot that currently includes Il Greco Restaurant.

Plans for new Saanich housing development don’t include affordable housing

Designing architect Alan Lowe said proposal consistent with community plan

Plans for a five-storey residential building in Saanich’s Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood with 53 condominium units will not include any affordable housing.

Alan Lowe, designing architect of Alan Lowe Architect, said the units (including some rental units) would be available at yet-to-be-determined “market” rate prices. “So it’s not going to be an affordable housing project,” he said.

The proposed residential development at the corner of Tillicum and Gorge roads would replace a commercial development that currently includes the Il Greco Restaurant, whose owners own the lot. According to Lowe, the restaurant would close, adding that a smaller take-out operation would operate out of the building’s ground floor.

While the proposed building appears to be in the mold of similar developments in the area that combine commercial with residential elements, the absence of an affordable housing component is likely to raise some eyebrows around Saanich’s council table, especially after a municipal election, whose winning candidates stressed the need for more affordable housing.

The question of how much affordable housing any new project should include continues to vex council, and council has already heard the criticism that it is not doing enough to hold developers accountable with it comes to affordable housing.

RELATED: Affordable housing needs mandated policy: Victoria, Esquimalt councillors

“I think we have to go through the process and see what happens,” said Lowe, when asked about council’s potential reaction, noting that the proposal is consistent with the local area plan. He has also had discussions with the local residents association.

“They seem supportive,” he said of his discussions with the Gorge Tillicum Association.

The building would appear in an area that calls for additional density and includes several amenities including access to public transit among others, he said.

Megan Catalona, a spokesperson for Saanich, said staff have received the application for the proposed re-development recently. “So we don’t have an estimate at this point on when it will go to [council],” she said.

Fans of Il Greco Restaurant, meanwhile, can rest assured that it won’t close anytime soon.

Lowe expects to break ground on the project within 20 months, pending staff review and approvals. This means that the project would finish in four year’s time.

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