The draft Gonzales neighbourhood plan includes improving access, visitor facilities and ecological restoration at Gonzales Beach. Kendra Wong/Victoria News

Victoria’s Gonzales neighbourhood plans for the future

Plan focuses on housing, walkability in neighbourhoood

Expanding the diversity of housing, improving walkability and protecting and celebrating the neighbourhood’s unique heritage are goals proposed in the city’s draft Gonzales neighbourhood plan.

A key issue to Gonzales residents is adding housing that both fits the neighbourhood’s character and increases family housing, affordability and rental housing supply.

The plan would allow construction of duplexes with secondary suites and small-lot houses with suites. It would also reduce the size of lots where duplexes are permitted, and encourage construction of rowhouses on wider lots and townhouses between Fairfield Road and Richardson Street, as well as near Glenlyon Norfolk School.

The addition of roughly 10 to 15 housing units per year over the next 20 to 30 years is also envisioned.

Most councillors supported the plan at last week’s committee of the whole meeting. However, Coun. Geoff Young expressed concern with its overall direction, saying densification in the form of townhouses could destabilize the neighbourhood.

“I think that some densification would be reasonable, but I don’t think that applying the townhouse zone within that entire area is a reasonably modest change. I think it’s a really big change,” he said. He gave as examples developments on Oliphant Avenue in Cook Street Village and the former Victoria Truth Centre property as projects that have faced opposition from residents.

Mayor Lisa Helps disagreed with his view of the potential situation.

“[The plan] provides quite a bit of stabilization. Three-hundred-and-fifty units or so over 25 years is minimal,” she said. “It’s the kind of neighbourhood that’s desirable and people want to live in. We need to enhance it with this sensitive infill.”

In spring 2016, the city started the process of creating a new neighbourhood plan for the Fairfield and Gonzales neighbourhoods, which included the appointment of a neighbourhood working group of residents, business owners, renters, youth and school representatives. Consultation began in June 2016 to develop the vision for the neighbourhood for the next three decades.

The plan calls for the completion and addition of new connections for walking, cycling and transit, the creation of more park features and places for people to gather, the establishment of heritage conservation areas and a new small urban village at Fairfield Road, Lillian Road and Wildwood Avenue.

Enhancing Gonzales Beach by improving access, visitor facilities and ecological restoration, as well as protecting neighbourhood ecosystems in Queen Anne Heights, Foul Bay Road and the Gonzales Hill area are also outlined in the plan.

The city is currently in the process of updating its 13 neighbourhood plans over the next four years. Gonzales has just over 4,100 residents, representing five per cent of the city’s population.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com

 

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