Linden Avenue neighbour Michelle Dobie worries about the loss of trees surrounding the former Victoria Truth Centre at 1201 Fort St., which includes the massive specimen behind her. The property has been sold and a major residential development is in the works for the site. Dobie and others are rallying at the site at 1201 Fort St. this Sunday at 10 a.m.                                Don Descoteau/                                Victoria News

Linden Avenue neighbour Michelle Dobie worries about the loss of trees surrounding the former Victoria Truth Centre at 1201 Fort St., which includes the massive specimen behind her. The property has been sold and a major residential development is in the works for the site. Dobie and others are rallying at the site at 1201 Fort St. this Sunday at 10 a.m. Don Descoteau/ Victoria News

Rockland rally planned to protest Victoria development

Scale of project, urban forest removal among main concerns

With a multi-unit residential development to replace the former Victoria Truth Centre potentially headed toward public hearing, Rockland neighbours worried over the loss of urban forest and neighbourhood scale are planning a protest rally they hope will send a message to city council.

Michelle Dobie, a 14-year resident of a Linden Avenue apartment building that backs onto the former church property, is among the residents speaking out about Abstract Developments’ revised plans to build six- and four-storey multi-unit buildings and 10 townhomes on the nearly two-acre property. The developments would be accessed via Fort Street and Pentrelew Place.

“I’m hopeful that they will preserve the green space as much as possible, including any of the protected species,” she said, listing a large sequoia on Pentrelew, Pacific dogwoods and Garry oaks as valuable trees at risk.

Sunday’s “peaceful protest” happens at 1201 Fort St. starting at 10 a.m.

The project came before committee of the whole with revisions in late June, but no public hearing date has yet been set for the required rezoning.

Dobie’s third-floor suite faces the rear of the property, which included a prayer garden and an area where churchgoers interred family members and scattered ashes. Over the years she has photographed owls, hawks, flickers, deer and raccoons, among other wildlife using the trees and grounds.

Abstract’s plans call for the retention of about two dozen maple, oak and cedar trees, mainly at the south border of the property between the building at 1025 Linden Ave. and Pentrelew Place, and closer to Fort Street around the northernmost end of the six-storey “building A.”

Not all neighbours have the same issues with the proposal.

Anna Cal lives with her husband, Don, directly across Pentrelew from where the townhomes would be built. They are comfortable with a redevelopment of the site, but are concerned with the proposed height of the townhomes and the feel of the project, which they believe is not in keeping with the style of the neighbourhood.

Anna Cal doesn’t see much difference between the latest proposal and a version city councillors sent back for further revision in April over similar height and style issues.

“It has been our nightmare for the past year,” she said. “We just want to be heard once again, we want council to hear us that we are not complacent, we are not going to give up. Development is good, but this is a unique, wonderfully located piece of earth.”

Abstract is hosting a community open house on the development next Tuesday (July 18) at the Fairfield Hall, 1303 Fairfield Rd., between 6 and 8:30 p.m. Representatives from Abstract will be joined by architects, designers and other members of the project team to answer questions and discuss elements of the redesigned proposal.

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