Saanich council voted unanimously to bring a Gordon Head multi-family housing application to a public hearing, going against recommendations from their own staff to postpone it.
A joint project between Tri-Eagle Development and Cadillac Developments would see a 58-unit housing proposal made up of 22 townhouse units, 34 apartment units and two one-bedroom townhouse units at 4201 Tyndall Ave.
“We are excited at the prospect of providing entry-level prices for homes that otherwise are not being met,” Tri-Eagle president Travis Lee said at Monday’s council meeting. “With the rising cost of home ownership, we need to be creative on how we provide it in the future and we think this proposal is a meaningful step in that direction.”
The advisory design panel recommended in the April 28 staff report more time was needed to consider redesigns to the plan, including the addition of underground parking, more outdoor spaces and to reconsider the proposed unit mix to provide more two-bedroom units.
Lee and Cadillac Developments owner Cam Pringle urged council to call a public hearing to give them an opportunity to properly address staff’s recommendations and to hear from members of the community.
“Only at a public hearing can our team present the proposal in a full and meaningful way,” Lee said. “We have thoughtful and meaningful responses to staff’s concerns and in the public forum we can answer these questions.”
The proposal would change land use from church, primary private school and daycare to multi-family residential use. The staff report noted the three apartment buildings, consisting of primarily furnished micro-suites, would be tailored to suit university students.
Coun. Colin Plant said although his decision to go against staff recommendations did not come easily, he wants to give the applicant the chance to present their full proposal.
“I’d like the applicant to have a lot of time to talk about this,” he said. “On a personal note, I think this is a very exciting project and one that I would be very interested to see modelled in Saanich, but I want to hear from the public.”
Coun. Judy Brownoff agreed, noting she would like to hear the applicants address the issues raised by district staff at the public hearing.
“These issues that are raised in the staff report need to be spoken to and addressed at the public hearing so we understand why the impasse has happened,” she said.
Cadillac and Tri-Eagle have previously worked in Greater Victoria, with developments including small lot zones in Saanich, Victoria and Langford. Coun. Susan Brice acknowledged the applicant’s reputation and said she is interested in learning more about how the developers would reimagine this site.
“The applicants have shown that they have in previous times been very attuned to Saanich and to the needs of the community and to the market,” she said. “I think a public hearing would be very interesting.”