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Proposed Christmas Avenue development in Saanich moves forward despite environmental concerns

The decision moved forward in 6-2 vote
Christmas Avenue development will move forward as determined by council in a 6-2 vote. (Black Press Media file photo)

A proposed Christmas Avenue development that was delayed due to wetland concerns was approved by Saanich council in a 6-2 vote.

A meeting on the proposal was recessed on Aug. 10 after Coun. Nathalie Chambers disagreed with the applicant and their acting biologist’s statement that the site is not a wetland. The biologist was not present at that meeting and Chambers did not feel comfortable with moving forward without the biologist’s presence and insight.

Many in the gallery for the public input portion of the meeting agreed with Chambers’ concerns.

Council discussions continued on Aug. 23, with the applicant emphasizing in the meeting that the site does not meet the definition of a wetland.

The proposal required a rezoning application for the property at 1544 Christmas Ave., where a development permit was then considered for the multi-storey apartment building featuring surface and underground parking.

ALSO READ: Proposed Christmas Avenue development in Saanich raises environmental concerns

The applicant proposed a community contribution of $36,000 – which equals $1,500 per unit – to the Saanich Affordable Housing Fund. They have also agreed to provide contributions to the Public Realm Enhancement. This would include the provision of boulevard rain gardens to treat stormwater runoff from the street and provide flood reduction in the watershed.

Chambers was not present at the Aug. 23 meeting and Couns. Judy Brownoff and Ned Taylor opposed the development. Brownoff did not support moving forward because she is concerned about the removal of trees that would take place.

It is to be noted that more trees would be planted in place of those removed.

Brownoff emphasized how important mature trees are to improve and maintain the quality of water, soil, and air and to remove pollutants and said that a more aggressive stance around climate change initiatives and protection of trees is needed.

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