Council Monday sent this proposal for a four-storey development on North Dairy Road opposite of the Hillside Shopping Centre back to the drawing board after concerns from area residents about parking, height and massing.

Saanich parks housing development

Concerns about parking among other issues have stalled plans for a four-storey apartment building at the entrance of Saanich’s Shelbourne Valley.

Council Monday voted unanimously to postpone plans by Abstract Developments to build a 56-unit multi-family apartment building at the border between Saanich and Victoria directly opposite of Hillside Shopping Centre near the intersection of North Dairy Road and Shelbourne Street, an area where Saanich plans to increase density in a sustainable manner under the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan.

While several councillors praised the location of proposed development, they raised concerns about various designs details.

“You really have to think about how this fit into the existing neighourhood,” said acting mayor Coun. Judy Brownoff in addressing Mike Miller, president of Abstract Development, and his multi-person team. Others offered comparable comments.

‘These are not minor cosmetic concerns,” said Coun. Susan Brice. “These are about size and parking.”

“This is an ideal location, but it has missed the mark,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders. “Let’s go back, and come back with something acceptable to the community and council.”

Council’s decision to send applicants back for revisions came after neighbours had raised concerns about the potential impact of the development on the neighbourhood. Many comments focused on parking, specifically the number of spots and the type of spots. The proposal calls for 41 surface spots for resident and six for visitors for a total of 47, short of the existing bylaw that requires 67 for residents and 17 for visitors for a total of 84.

This gap prompted neighbourhood concerns about parking spilling onto neighbourhood streets, if Saanich would have granted the requested variances. But if the number of proposed parking spots would have fallen below required levels, they would have accounted for 42 per cent of the area that the lot covers — a “considerable” figure according to staff.

In short, the development as proposed would have been short of parking, while lacking visual appeal, according to its critics, a point made by Browning Street resident Bruce Fowler. “It is a monstrous building and a parking lot,” he said. “This is exactly the type of project we were trying to avoid with the Shelbourne Valley Action Plan.”

It calls for underground parking, said Fowler, who called on council to develop a mechanism that would require developers to justify surface parking, if under-ground parking is not economical.

“Surface parking should be the exception, not the rule,” said Fowler. This project, rightly or wrongly, will set a precedent for future ones through the Shelbourne Valley corridor, he said.

Other speakers focused on the proposed height of the building. Wordsworth Street resident Bailey Toupin said the proposed development would be higher than any other building in the vicinity at four storeys. While a nearby apartment building has a height of three storeys, it partly recesses, creating a more pleasing appearance, something missing from the proposed development, a point also noted by staff.

Renderings show considerable massing along North Dairy Road, and several speakers questioned the appeal of the building.

After hearing these concerns, Miller told council that his company rejected underground because the geology of the area would have made underground parking very costly. This said, Miller appeared agreeable to exploring two options to address the parking concerns: cut the number of the units, or re-consider the earlier rejection of underground parking.

“Either one of those [options], council would be interested in seeing,” said Coun. Dean Murdock, who proposed the postponement.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria real estate sales numbers tell two stories for July

Real estate board president Sandi-Jo Ayers talks about pent-up spring demand, low inventory

Downtown Victoria’s on-street parking time limits, rates back in effect

City reinstates restrictions, extends reduced rates for parkades and other metered areas

Teachers need more time to prepare for fall reopening, says Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association

GVTA president says class schedules need to be reworked for cohort model

Turf replacement installed at Oak Bay High

New Astroturf will be ready for school, sports still cancelled

View Royal mayor victimized in CERB identity theft scam

David Screech shocked to find his CRA account was accessed, his banking information changed

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote with head stuck in jar

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

‘Do our lives count for less?’: COVID-19 exposes cracks in disability aid

In July, Parliament approved a $600 payment for people with disabilities facing additional expenses during COVID-19

Agreement between province, BC Hydro, First Nation, ends legal fight over Site C

B.C. will work to improve land management and restore traditional place names in areas of cultural significance

Investigators still hoping to solve 2015 homicide of Penelakut Island woman

Tips being sought into Penelakut Island woman’s death five years ago

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Most Read