A nine-storey rental building proposal targeting middle-income seniors leapt another hurdle last week in Esquimalt, but barely made it over.
In a 4-3 vote, council gave first and second readings to official community plan (OCP) amendments and a rezoning application, both of which were required for the Hythe Pointe development proposed for 819, 821 and 823 Esquimalt Rd. to move forward.
Residents will eventually get a chance to weigh in on the project and the changes to township policy at a public hearing. The date has not been set but will be advertised in advance.
Several councillors had reservations about the height of the structure, which proposes eight floors of living space and a rooftop patio area. The current maximum on the site is six storeys – the three lots are home to a convenience store and two single-family homes.
Coun. Meagan Brame, who made the motion to accept the staff recommendations, voiced her concerns during discussion.
“I find the project intriguing and I like the thought of (a development designed for) the missing middle seniors,” she said. “I have concerns about the height, which is why I’m asking for shadow studies. I really want to hear more from the neighbours, so I’m interested and I want to see it go further.”
Coun. Jane Vermeulen, who seconded the motion, said she finds the proposal innovative for combining cooperative style housing with independent living for seniors.
“We do need to provide housing options for seniors as they age, as we are limited in the region,” she said. If any area can tolerate more height in the township, she added, “it is Esquimalt Road.”
Couns. Lynda Hundleby, Ken Armour and Tim Morrison voted against the motion based on concerns ranging from excessive height and massing to the lack of community amenities in return for changing the OCP.
But each found redeeming qualities in the concept itself, which promoted social connectedness and a comparably affordable price point due to having less staff and encouraging residents to volunteer for activities within the building. Plans call for 92 one- and two-bedroom rental units, plus internal amenities such as a games room, theatre, fibre arts studio, a fitness studio, a pub and tearoom and a commercial cafe.
Developer Avenir Construction is also building The Vista seniors residence on Admirals Road.