Marina buildings sent back to developer for minor changes

Victoria city council delays meeting to avoid lawsuit over development permit

The look of two commercial buildings planned to flank the proposed marina along the Westsong Walkway have been sent back to the drawing board for minor changes.

The buildings proposed alongside the Victoria International Marina will contain a restaurant, coffee shop, marine retail store and a service centre for the marina. They have been designed to resemble ships, with a metal and glass exterior, and decorative mast and cable features.

The decorative elements took things one step too far for city council.

“The building design is a bit too nautical,” said Mayor Dean Fortin. “It would age and tire very quickly.”

On Thursday, a room full of people waited in council chambers for the meeting to start for one full hour, while council discussed the legalities of the issue behind closed doors.

The development permits sought are completely independent of the marina, Fortin stressed, after apologizing for the delay. Council only has the right to consider the form and character of the proposal, but not the merit of the buildings themselves, he explained.

These points were emphasized during the closed-door meeting.

“You just want to make sure you’re doing it right,” Fortin said.

Last year, council had its hand slapped for overstepping its authority when it denied a development permit application. A developer successfully sued the city for considering issues beyond the simple form and character of his proposal, which fit within the area zoning.

Parking for the marina buildings also sparked concern.

While there is adequate underground parking under the Royal Quays condo, city council wanted assurance that access would never be obstructed for customers of the commercial building.

Members of the condo strata deny there is any agreement allowing parking access, while the proponent says there is, said Coun. Marianne Alto, the liaison for Vic West.

“Clearly in the face of two completely different positions, it would be impossible to rely on one or the other,” she said.

Parking has been an ongoing problem in the area.

“There is already frustration on the part of residents around folks that are street parking who may or may not live in the neighbourhood, who park and then walk downtown,” Alto said.

 

The facts

The proposal includes two commercial buildings, to be primarily located on piles over the water. They feature a paddle-boat portal underneath, allowing paddlers to pass by the marina near the shore at high and low tide.

The first building, at 1 Cooperage Pl., is 6,724 square feet. The second building, at 2 Paul Kane Pl. is slightly larger.

Both are one storey in height, and include a public walkway around the buildings, connecting with the Westsong Walkway.