City Council was out of office for three weeks this summer, but returned on Sept. 6 with a very busy schedule.
During the Thursday meeting, council held public hearings and approved four rezoning applications for properties in James Bay, Burnside and Oaklands, before turning to the public for comment on two applications for a property on Yates Street, eventually approving a heritage alteration permit to allow the development of a two-storey office building for vehicle rentals.
Additionally, an application was put forward for a five-storey residential building on Chatham Street.
Council then turned to their second quarterly update, which featured updates from City staff and Victoria police Chief Const. Del Manak.
City staff reported that of 53 ongoing projects and programs, 38 were on track, 10 were facing challenges and four were complete. Projects facing setbacks include the Bike Master Plan, the Accessibility Framework, stormwater main and sewer main replacement projects and the waterfront pathway and public realm. Challenges were described as minor.
Budget updates saw that the city was on track, and that revenues are anticipated to exceed budget expectations, in part due to traffic fine revenues from the province exceeding budget estimates by $106,000.
Police budgets were also on track.
The City instructed staff to look into quieter vehicle back-up beepers for municipal vehicles to reduce noise disturbance.
Council also directed staff to explore policies in other municipalities surrounding cannabis lounges, to help form a strategy of its own once marijuana is legalized.
Council heard from City planners about their initial review of alternative parking spaces for the new Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre. In August, council committed to a no net loss of greenspace for the facility, and delegated $40,000 to an investigation into parking alternatives.
Staff proposed several street blocks that could accommodate parking spaces, and estimated upwards of $850,000 in costs for construction should all areas be pursued. Spaces in the parking lot adjacent to the Royal Athletic Park are still being considered.
Lastly, council approved the adoption of an amended draft policy to encourage affordable rental housing in new strata housing development projects, where bonus density is requested. Staff will conduct further consultations with stakeholders for final details of the policy. At this point, a cash contribution of $200,00 per affordable housing unit can be delivered in lieu of on-site affordable rental units for projects delivering less than 20 new strata units. The draft policy is to come into place no later than March 31, 2019.