Esquimalt has approved a 10-storey, mixed-use building at the corner of Esquimalt Road and Head Street.
After long negotiations with Lexi Development, which originally proposed 12 storeys, and more than 90 minutes of comments from a public hearing on Nov. 25, council voted 4-3 to approve the plan in its third reading.
The development drew some controversy because in June 2018, Esquimalt changed its Official Community Plan (OCP) to allow a maximum height of six storeys. Lexi Development had already started making plans at this stage.
In exchange for a height variance Lexi put forward a covenant promising the first two floors of the building (approximately 4,000 sq. ft.) to be reserved as a health clinic. At this point it is uncertain if it will be an urgent and primary care clinic, or a private physicians’ office. Presently a Request For Interest has been put forward to Island Health for the space. In either case, there would be 10 years of subsidized rent for the medical space. Lexi has promised to have either secured one or more tenants before residential sales begin, or provide the Township with $160,000 to help hire someone.
The next eight storeys would be for 69 condominium units.
Lexi has also committed to building a kayak dock in the West Bay Marina (a total of $150,000), five electric car chargers, $30,000 to construct two pedestrian-activated crosswalks and $54,000 to be put toward a temporary clinic space before the clinic is finalized.
During the public hearing, approximately half of people reported dissent against the building density, while the other half applauded the clinic and residential space.
“This was a challenging one for the community,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins. “It was really indicated in the meeting that no matter which way it went many people would be unhappy. I’m hoping now that everyone can now work toward seeing what the benefits will be for the community from this project.”
Now, the official covenant will be put forward and adopted before development permits are issued.
Lexi Developments hopes the begin demolition this month. Construction should take 14 to 16 months to complete.