A multi-faceted mixed-use development that aims to transform the north Glanford Road area in Saanich with diverse and affordable housing options, a daycare, a possible medical clinic and other elements has passed the council hurdle.
Following a public hearing June 21 which saw concerns voiced about the scale of the three-building proposal from Geric Construction, potential traffic impacts and the loss of industrial lands, and support for the additional housing the project would bring, council voted 8-1 to approve the required zoning and official community plan changes. Only Coun. Nathalie Chambers was opposed.
The Mateah development includes a split residential building to the north – the sloping land and varied design for the 10-storey structure are said to present different elevations depending on one’s viewpoint. The project will replace commercial buildings fronting onto Glanford Road and Enterprise Crescent, including The Bird pub and liquor store, Island Mediquip and Swain Moving and Storage.
Designs call for 250 homes, with roughly 85 per cent strata condominiums and the remainder (38) rental apartments, a portion of which will go for below-market rates. Also in the plan are a large public common area, and commercial spaces in the separate five-storey building at Enterprise Crescent that could house light industrial businesses, a medical clinic or a restaurant or cafe.
Some on council reflected the numerous public comments about the need for more housing.
“If we do not have a greater supply of housing, a greater diversity of housing … then we are going to be losing young people,” Coun. Karen Harper said in her closing comments. “I think it’s extremely important that we make it possible for young people to be able to stay and move out of their parents’ houses.”
Coun. Zac de Vries, who has previously said people of his generation need homes they can afford in Saanich, called it “an important, forward-looking project.”
“It ticks every box we’re looking at in terms of housing, commercial, expanding our commercial tax base,” he said.
Approved were an official community plan amendment allowing buildings of more than four storeys in a neighbourhood, a change in the Carey Local Area Plan to classify the property “potential multi-family,” and rezoning the neighbourhood public house and industrial park zones to a new comprehensive development zone.
Among many items to be secured through registration of a covenant or housing agreement was the affordable component, which will see 19 rental units priced at 15 per cent below market rate for a period of 10 years. That program would be administered by a local public or non-profit housing agency.
Also to be secured by covenant is the provision of free rent for the daycare for at least 10 years. Geric is working with the Vancouver Island YMCA-YWCA to operate the facility.
Others at the table addressed those who spoke against the change this development would bring to the area, which borders a residential neighbourhood.
Coun. Colin Plant touched on the potential loss of valuable industrial-zoned lands, but said the need for housing today is greater. Those who might find this size of change uncomfortable will see that “council is listening to all of Saanich,” not just those who live in the neighbourhood, he added.
Mayor Fred Haynes called the area a “neighbourhood in transition,” much like when once-rural lands began being developed 50 years or more ago. He also put thoughts of potential job or industry loss in a different light, noting that in the post-COVID era, many people may work from home here and create economic activity.
The future of the 108-year-old building housing The Bird liquor store and pub was raised by at least one speaker. While the Saanich Heritage Foundation had no recommendation on the structure, which is not registered nor designated, a representative of Geric stated it would be willing to sell the building to an interested party who wished to move it elsewhere.
A public hearing on the proposed six-storey residential project at Shelbourne Street and McRae Avenue in Saanich was postponed from June 21 due to the length of time taken for the previous two public hearings.
Residents looking to speak or listen in on the proceedings are advised the new time is Tuesday, July 5 at 7 p.m. Visit saanich.ca to learn how to log in to the online meeting.