The property at 1712 and 1780 Fairfield Rd. has been approved for development by the City of Victoria. Residents are upset about the decision since the proposed development is 2.5 storeys, where the Official Community Plan only allows two. (File contributed/City of Victoria)

Victoria neighbourhood takes City to court over variance approvals

Some members of the Gonzales neighbourhood are unhappy about a new development

A group of the Gonzales neighbourhood residents is taking the City of Victoria to court over a recent development approval.

John Wells is a neighbourhood advocate who’s spearheading the case after the City approved a 2.5 storey townhouse development at 1712 and 1720 Fairfield Rd. on Aug. 8. According to the area’s Official Community Plan (OCP), buildings may hit a maximum of two storeys.

For over two-and-a-half years the development, brought forward by developer Aryze, has been under negotiation with the City of Victoria. In the end, the developer had to apply for two variances: a height variance from two, to 2.5 storeys, and a reduced setback. The resulting development will provide 20 townhouses, ranging in size from one- to three-bedroom units.

ALSO READ: Gonzales Hill home project comes under scrutiny

“It’s an awful lot of residences in a relatively small footprint,” Wells said. “In order to shoehorn that in they’ve asked for several variances …. City council does not have the authority to simply change that on a whim.”

Wells, who has lived in the area for over a decade is concerned that the tall, wide building will encroach the charm of the area, especially its neighbouring Hollywood Park.

“I see how people enjoy the park and a concern of mine is with this looming building coming right up to the park, you can imagine that people aren’t necessarily going to want to have a picnic in an area where there are balconies.”

Wells has filed a case against the City in court, and started a GoFundMe page to help offset the legal costs, with a goal of fundraising $20,000. At the time of publication, it had raised nearly $2,000.

While the city heard a lot of input both for and against the development, in the end, it endorsed the project.

“It’s not sustainable that nine per cent of the city’s landmass only has .08 per cent of the city’s townhouses,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps at the Aug. 8 council meeting as she concluded the decision. “It’s very difficult to sit up here and hear half the people say ‘we do want this building’ and the other half to say ‘we don’t want this building,’ and our job is to look around and to listen, and our bigger and most difficult job is to look towards the future.”

ALSO READ: OCP update will review development, density– Sidney mayor

Helps further argued that increasing housing density in the area would help contribute to the city’s climate action plan, reducing the need for many people to travel by car to where they need to go.

For Wells, and the dozens of other people behind the court case, the decisions around the development have more to do with principle.

“We’re not against development. I see development as a healthy part of any community, but this development seems to go too far, too quickly,” he said. “If this is allowed to go through unchecked, this sets a precedent that the OCP can be ignored.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

City of VictoriadevelopmentOfficial Community Plan

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

Just Posted

Frontline volunteers bring handwashing stations to Pandora tent city and beyond

‘The basic premise of this is to fight COVID-19 … right?’

COVID-19: Access school resources with new virtual education hub

Shaw and EVERFI create onling learning resource for Canadian youth

Greater Victoria resident sick with COVID-19 calls it a ‘horrible disease’

Tim Boat says he has ‘extreme coughing fits every hour’ to clear his lungs

Victoria to reassess 2020 budget in light of COVID-19; more hotel rooms found for the homeless

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps provided an update on municipal measures on March 31

Tents, sleeping bags donated to Our Place from local Victoria store

Robinson’s Outdoor Store received funds from PwC Canada to make the donation

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Most Read