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Dockside Green clears hurdle to continue

Victoria's Dockside Green development is back in the public eye with yet another attempt to resurrect the ill-fated project.
Dockside Green.

Victoria's Dockside Green development, once touted as the “world's greenest neighbourhood” is back in the public eye with yet another attempt to resurrect the ill-fated project.

The development project, first launched nearly 12 years ago, was billed as the largest development in Victoria's history as it was proposed to create a 1.3 million square-foot community on a 15 acre (6.1 ha) former Brownfield site on Victoria's Inner Harbour.

Initial plans featured state-of-the-art green technologies and LEED certified design features that led to the developers being able to purchase the land from the city at a considerable price reduction.

And, indeed, some of those environmental promises were kept.

A sewage treatment facility was constructed, as promised, as was a biomass (energy) plant. But  the move to build a sewage treatment facility for Victoria means the site's sewage plant will eventually become redundant and the biomass plant is not currently being used to heat the existing buildings at the site. Those buildings are using conventional natural gas.

Coun. Geoff Young raised this history during the discussions regarding the rezoning application to caution council about engaging social and environmental tinkering in the future.

“The taxpayers, in fact, funded a lot of the environmental work by selling the land at a lower price, and it didn't work out as planned,” said Young. “While there's no sense in crying over spilt milk, but I worry about other ‘triple benefit’ projects. We should allow the developers to make their proposals without, as a council, trying to shape those proposals.”

The Dockside Green project came to a halt in 2009 with only about 25 per cent of the land developed and only 255 units completed.

Now a taller, slimmer version of the project has passed a rezoning application and despite some reservations, Young feels this time, the project may actually proceed.

“We've given them the changes they've asked for and the market is much better than it was back then. As well, the new bridge will provide an attractive link to downtown, so the situation is much better for them (the developers),” said Young.

As part of the plan, the density of the largest buildings has been reduced, a total of 12 multi-storey buildings are proposed as well as a plaza and new public park.

The project is also to be subdivided to allow individual developers to build with Dockside Green overseeing the project. All protected view corridors will be retained.

Each new building will require community engagement and individual buildings must still receive development permits from the city before any construction can begin.

Coun. Pamela Madoff was optimistic about the “second chance” being afforded to the Dockside project and dismissed the negative regarding the delay in getting the project back on track.

“Some things are worth waiting for . . . In fact, this has the potential to be better than what was suggested in the beginning under the original master agreement,” said Madoff.