Esquimalt councillors heard a contrast between the sentimental and the practical this week at a public hearing for a new seniors housing and Royal Canadian Legion development proposed for 622 Admirals Rd.
By the end of Monday’s hearing on Monimos Equities and Developments’ rezoning application for the property, councillors were convinced the need for a modern, purpose-built facility – one with a 12-storey tower – outweighed worries about losing the Legion in its present form.
“One resident had a really good comment,” Coun. Megan Brame said Tuesday. “She said, ‘this is about zoning, not the Legion.’ It’s a hard time for people to separate all the wonderful work the Legion does and the project itself.”
Council gave first and second reading to the proposal, which calls for a mixed-use building with 140 seniors independent living apartments and 12 “veterans dwelling units” managed by the Legion. The Esquimalt-Dockyard Legion Branch 172 would have a scaled-down facility in the building.
Township staff will now consider comments from the public hearing, then bring a recommendation to council later in June. That decision would be the last major hurdle for the project to overcome in a process that has taken several years to reach this point.
Parking had been an issue with some residents, but the final version of the plans bumped the number of spots back up to 116 spaces, the number required under existing bylaws.
Coun. David Schinbein said most of the correspondence he received about the project leading up to Monday’s hearing was positive.
“The single biggest thing people said was that this is going to be a facility that’s affordable for people in Esquimalt,” he said. Many of the comments came from people nearing retirement age who told him a complex purpose-built for seniors, some of whom are on fixed incomes, was lacking in Esquimalt.
Monimos Equities CEO Chris Fitzpatrick has heard the public’s concerns at various times through the life of the project. He said it was good that people had one last time to speak about the development.
“I think we’re there,” he said of the version of the project presented Monday in council chambers. “I think we’ve made all the changes and listened to council’s suggestions and come through the community process. There’s not a lot more we can do in terms of the physical design of the buildings, other than some minor exterior items.”
If it passes third reading next month, the project will then go through the advisory design panel for final tweaking.