An approximately 200-unit, five-storey development adjacent to Esquimalt’s town square has been moved forward despite residents expressing concern over a potential increase of vehicles in the area.
Developer Invictus Commercial Corp. and property manager Boardwalk REIT’s proposal, called the Marin, includes two buildings that would take the place of 14 single-family residential properties between Carlisle Avenue and Lyall Street.
Invictus’ town square planner Jennifer Kay said their project aims to be an important part of the town’s growing core by adding housing near shops, parks, employment centres and schools.
“We know that the region is facing a housing crisis and that we all must build more compact and complete communities to help address the impacts of climate change,” Kay said.
While the official community plan allows for six storeys for medium-density projects, Kay said they limited their buildings to five – with the top two stepped back – to create a transition to taller buildings nearby.
The application seeks rezoning and was unanimously advanced after a public hearing on June 27. Residents mainly took issue with the proposed 200-stall underground parking garage as they said it would lead to traffic issues and street parking being overrun in the area. The parking garage includes five accessible and seven visitor spaces.
The proposal includes up to 110 one-year bus passes for residents and around 200 bike parking spots. Kay said the Marin hopes to reduce the number of cars on the road by building in a walkable area with easy access to transit and active transportation corridors.
Councillors shared residents’ parking concerns but said the project could add the core density that the township is striving for to meet housing and climate goals.
More than half the units would be one-bedrooms and a covenant would ensure at least 20 three-bedrooms are included. A total of 213 units were originally proposed, but Invictus said it will now have just shy of 200 in response to council requesting fewer one beds and more family-oriented units.
The proposal seeks to link to and extend the Esquimalt town square’s public art walk with a landscaped pathway splitting the two buildings. A connecting crosswalk across Carlisle Avenue would be included in the covenant to make this happen.
After council’s first glimpse of the project, the developers were asked to reduce any potential wind tunnel effect between the two buildings.
Some residents were concerned about trees being removed during construction. Esquimalt staff said the developer is aiming to retain boulevard trees and any of those removed would be replaced with ones selected by the township’s parks department.
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