An 11-storey building proposed for Saanich’s Royal Oak neighbourhood has been sent to a public hearing despite criticism from residents.
On Dec. 14, Saanich council reviewed an application from Doral Developments Ltd. to develop a 1.24-hectare property at 4734, 4744 and 4754 Elk Lake Dr. – abutting Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park on the edge of the Urban Containment Boundary.
The complex would include 242 units in two buildings – 43 to be sold for 15 per cent below market value – over an underground parkade. Various development variance permits were requested for items including parking, height, siting and width.
Residents and both the Falaise Community Association and the Royal Oak Community Association (ROCA) voiced concerns about the proposed development’s height, proximity to the park and noise impacts. At 11-stories, the development would exceed the current four-storey limit outlined in the Official Community Plan and, per a staff report, a covenant on the property limits developments to 98 units.
ROCA president Roger Graham wrote that “any development that greatly exceeds the currently allowed density and scale would be a significant detriment to the neighbourhood.”
Council voted 7-2 in favour of moving to a public hearing. Mayor Fred Haynes said council is trying to balance the current housing needs of the municipality with dated policies and neighbourhood history.
The density and height were alarming to some but “it’s only by going high that was can get people living and playing in Saanich,” Haynes said. The proposed development would bring housing to an area with transit routes and shopping centres.
Couns. Nathalie Chambers and Judy Brownoff voted against moving to a public hearing. Chambers felt with the critique from residents, it was “outlandish” that the vote passed. She voiced concerns about increased density along the border of the Urban Containment Boundary and the potential for residents parking at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park.
“Bringing the density onto the doorstep of a park is not a good idea,” she told Black Press Media.
Haynes emphasized that sending the proposal to a public hearing doesn’t mean it’s approved, rather that the majority of council felt “it met the technical requirements” for a more fulsome discussion.
No date has been set for the public hearing.