The public will have a chance to weigh in on a controversial heritage alteration in Chinatown – but not at a public hearing.
At issue is whether a two-storey addition to the Hoy Sun Ning Yung Benevolent Association Building represents a saving grace to a building in dire need of repairs, or a bane to the dearly-loved Fan Tan Alley.
In light of a 1,000-name petition against the renovation, Victoria city council grappled with the options: to decide on the application in one day as planned, to send it to a non-statutory public hearing despite the legal risks involved, or a middle-ground option.
Council aimed for the middle.
The application has been postponed for one month, despite the cost of the delay to the developer. It will be brought forward for final decision on Aug. 25. Anyone interested can register to speak on the issue for five minutes at that meeting.
Council has to take care, however, to only consider issues relevant to the heritage-alteration permit. These do include impact to surrounding public space, but do not include impact to immediate private neighbours.
It’s a distinction Coun. Pamela Madoff would like to see removed.
Madoff was alone in her support to send the application to a non-statutory public hearing.
“Not only is it a heritage conservation, but it is a national historic site,” she said.
Mayor Dean Fortin, however, pointed out there are many avenues for the public to provide input, outside of a public hearing.
The city’s heritage advisory committee unanimously supports the application.