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Township of Esquimalt approves permits for 26-storey residential building

After a lengthy discussion council members approved the development 5-2
A development permit and a development variance permit was approved by the Esquimalt council for a 26-storey residential building on Monday, April 8. (Courtesy GMC Projects)

A 26-storey mixed-use residential building is going ahead in Esquimalt.

At a Township of Esquimalt council meeting on Monday, April 8, and after a lengthy discussion, council members voted 5-2 in favour of the 900 Esquimalt Rd. development. The township approved a development permit and a variance permit.

“We didn’t set out with height in mind. We set out to design the best urban form for the site that would yield the greatest public benefit,” said president of GMC Projects Jordan Milne, who proposed the project. “What is proposed is the outcome of that process, the only thing that yield more is denser and taller. This is an opportunity to densify in the right location, with the right mix of housing at the right time.”

The building would include commercial space, 96 rental units, 176 condos, 231 parking stalls, and amenities including a dog park, bike parking stalls, a 9,000-sq.-ft. rooftop “community-fostering space,” indoor community space, a music room and a fitness centre.

During the public input period, most residents shared their support for the project. Others disagreed due to the height of the building, the shadow it would cast over the township, and the pressure it would put on parking and traffic.

Coun. Duncan Cavans said Esquimalt is already doing its part in providing more housing, saying there has been a 35-per-cent increase in units since 2021, “yet projects like this are still needed everywhere.” His biggest concerns are from process and what the project means for “wider vision” of the community.

Coun. Ken Armour said among the comments he has heard from the community, what captivated him most was from the business community, who are struggling to maintain and attract a workforce due to a lack of housing in Esquimalt.

“We have an option here to reinvigorate that corner in a very beautiful way, or we face the potential that this is just going to remain stagnant for a number of years while they figure out next steps,” he said.

Mayor Barbara Desjardins said although the height of the building would be a big change to the landscape and atmosphere of the community, the housing crisis continues to affect the local economy and “everyday we delay it gets worse.”

“You can be uncomfortable with the process, but if you are liking what you are seeing in this design, and I’ve heard that around the table, support this project and then deal with process again, and that will help our community,” she told the councillors. “I think it’s the right place for adding intense development.”

The motion to approve the two permits was approved with Cavans and Coun. Andrea Boardman opposed.

Read More: Esquimalt council hears public opinion on proposed 26-storey high-rise

Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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