An aerial view over Victoria looking over the Bay Street bridge

An aerial view over Victoria looking over the Bay Street bridge

Victoria waterfront development under more scrutiny

The city will keep the Gorge Waterway Initiative informed about rezoning and development applications along the waterfront.

An umbrella group of organizations concerned with protecting the Gorge Waterway will be in the loop regarding rezoning applications and potential development along the Gorge Waterway, the Selkirk Waterfront and the Upper Harbour in the near future.

The Gorge Waterway Initiative group, consisting of non-governmental organizations, local governments and community members such as the Burnside Gorge Community Association, Esquimalt Residents Association and Habitat Acquisition Trust, among others, contacted the City of Victoria requesting to receive more information regarding waterfront rezoning.

“They felt there had been some applications that they hadn’t heard about until after the fact,” said Coun. Ben Isitt.

Isitt made the recommendation to council at last week’s planning and land use committee meeting to refer waterfront development applications to the Gorge Waterway Initiative.

“I thought it sounded reasonable that we would ask them what they think about development applications on the waterfront,” said Isitt. “[This] provides insurance that they’re not going to be unaware of applications that could potentially have a negative impact on the waterway.”

Whenever a rezoning application comes up that could affect the waterfront, the city planning department will advise the Gorge Waterway Initiative via email.

The recommendation passed unanimously and will be brought to the Jan. 22 council meeting.

“Anytime there’s an activity or a potential impact on the community, it’s nice for those members to get involved and provide some perspective,” said Glenn Harris, senior manager of the environmental protection division at the CRD.

Harris said a benefit to this communication between the city and the Gorge Waterway Initiative is that better information will be shared with all potential stakeholders in the community.

“The intent is to hopefully allow the city to make better decisions around these developments and be aware of more things that they might not be privy to,” said Harris. “This is just a more efficient way of providing feedback.”

Currently, any member of the public or organization has the right to comment when they think their interests are affected, said Isitt.

“The difference is that we’ll proactively let them know about any waterfront development application from the Upper Harbour to the Gorge,” he said. “I think to have open lines of communication between the city and the Gorge Waterway Initiative will allow us to continue to protect and restore our waterway.”