Residents ruffled over Clive proposal in Oak Bay

Council moves project forward, public hearing expected in fall

Dozens of residents filled Oak Bay Council Chambers as council made its decision to push The Clive development project through to an advisory panel.

More than 500 sign petition against Clive

The future of The Clive development proposal is far from extinguished, as Oak Bay council pushed the project on to the next level on Monday.

Council was met with a full house that packed the chambers, overflow room and even plugged the door of the municipal hall, as residents and developers turned out to hear what council would decide about one of the district’s more controversial projects. The vote: move the project on to Oak Bay’s Advisory Design Panel for consultation – a call that sparked an outcry from some members of the audience.

The development, a proposed three-storey, 19-unit building that would replace the two-storey, eight-unit apartment currently at 2280 Oak Bay Ave., was brought forward to council with revisions on July 15, after the JN Development group went through an extensive consultation process with area residents. However, a motion put forward to deny the proposal due to perceived violations with Oak Bay’s Official Community Plan was defeated by a tie vote. Further consideration of the application was then tabled until all council members could be present for the vote.

At Monday’s meeting, Clive Avenue residents and community members who opposed the project showed up with pamphlets and promotion for an online petition to urge council to quash the project.

“Municipal staff have warned that such action would set an extremely dangerous zoning precedent which would, in effect, remove the community safeguards and standards,” reads the pamphlet, organized by “No” spokesperson Peter Gooch. “Any lot in your Oak Bay neighbourhood could be similarly rezoned for over development.

“Council promised us they would listen, but it seems to me people came to the meeting with their minds already made up,” Gooch said.

With more than 60 letters sent to council before the meeting, along with more than 500 signatures on a petition and from the opposition, Coun. Kevin Murdoch maintained his position against the current proposal, stating that council’s responsibility is to hear residents concerns.

“I just don’t like the message it sends when letters and complaints don’t matter and we go ahead with something anyway,” Murdoch said. “I don’t want this (project) to fail, and maybe we’re almost there, but right now I am hearing too many concerns to let that go.”

Coun. John Herbert retained a similar stance, stating that moving the project onto the panel would “waste weeks of time” and result in the same thing: council being forced to make a decision on a project that still violates certain perceptions.

“If we want the developer to get serious about making real, workable changes, we have to play some polite hardball here, and say we are serious,” Herbert said. “But if you want an excuse to give the appearance of action, there you go. To me, this is a joke.”

With acclaim for the project by Coun. Michelle Kirby, the changed vote of Coun. Cairine Green – from no to yes, Coun. Pam Copley and Mayor Nils Jensen, and a supportive nod from Coun. Tara Ney – who was absent from the July meeting –  the project moved forward. While Jensen pointed out that assessment from the panel doesn’t mean The Clive will happen yet, he and some other councillors noted the move as a success.

“Change is a process, not an event, and this has been turned into a huge event,” said Green, who changed her vote after listening to young people at her son’s wedding express a desire to “afford” to live in Oak Bay. “It’s unfair to demonize the developer – that’s what they do, develop. … Instead of creating enemies in our community, let’s work together to see this change happen.”

The project will come back to council prior to a public hearing this fall.

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