Saanich council won’t consider Townley Lodge for months

Revised plans for a revived affordable housing project may not appear before council for several months.

Plans submitted by HCMA Architecture and Design this June on behalf of the Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS) show revised plans for the redevelopment of Townley Lodge.

“Staff just received the revised application and the next step is to create a fulsome report, outlining impacts and considerations to all departments in Saanich,” said Kelsie McLeod, a spokesperson for the district. “This can take some time due to the complexity of the work, so we don’t anticipate it going to council for a few months.”

Plans call for 54 apartments for seniors and 10 family townhouses spread across a large three-storey building and a series of smaller buildings at 1780 Townley St. They would replace the current two-storey building, which GVHS has operated since 1967.

Plans submitted last fall proposed to replace the building’s current 39 low-income seniors rental units with 51 new senior apartments and 16 family townhouses across three buildings, including a four-storey building.

But the $18-million project ran into opposition when residents living near Townley Lodge raised concerns about the proposed four-storey building.

While these critics acknowledged the need for affordable housing, they feared that the building would diminish their quality of life and property values – concerns that convinced council to indefinitely postpone a public hearing for the project.

Several councillors noted at the time that GVHS had not done enough to win over the neighbourhood.

Council’s de-facto rejection of the proposal sparked criticism from affordable housing advocates and business leaders, and GVHS considered selling the property with proceeds going to fund affordable housing projects elsewhere, among other options.

GVHS, however, eventually revised its proposal over the course of multiple consulting sessions with community leaders and residents leading up to the final design that GVHS eventually submitted.