With a public hearing likely to happen in late June on the Christie Point Apartments proposal, View Royal council had no decision to make Tuesday night.
But residents of the complex and Portage Inlet neighbours from both View Royal and Saanich took the opportunity to give View Royal Mayor David Screech and councillors more food for thought on the proposed redevelopment of the rental housing property by Realstar Management.
Christie Point Advocates member Judith Newnham set the tone for the public commentaries to follow by presenting the results of the group’s print and online petitions opposing the current 473-unit project. She read numerous comments from respondents, on topics ranging from the displacement of residents and lack of affordable housing to height, environmental and traffic concerns.
Noting that a Town of View Royal staff report stated no non-market rate housing is proposed or required by the Town on the project, Newnham called out council to require it at Christie Point.
“What a great opportunity for a forward-thinking mayor and council to ensure that any new redevelopment include apartment rental units within the reach of those who need it the most – the working class, single parents, seniors and others on fixed incomes,” she said.
The written version of the petition attracted 105 signatures, while the online edition received support from 580 people.
With the majority of the packed council chambers there to speak about or hopefully hear some discussion about the proposal, less than a dozen people voiced their concerns.
Among them were a Saanich resident who grew up in the area, attended Shoreline school and told council that six stories is too high for the development. He questioned why no breakdown of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites had yet been given, a mix he said would determine rental rates.
“This is my home and I am prepared to stand up for it,” he said.
Realstar vice-president Heather Grey-Wolf said at a previous public meeting that without knowing what it may be allowed to build, and its associated costs, at that stage determining configurations and rent amounts was difficult to do.
Tuesday also saw speakers from the Friends of Portage Inlet and the Portage Inlet Sanctuary Colquitz Estuary Society talk about potential effects of the current proposal on birds and other environmental issues.
David Babiuk of the Friends voiced concern over what he called a “lack of transparency” with regard to discussions of the proposal, and the lack of clarity about the floor space ratio of the development on this 15.3-acre strip of land. While reports have indicated that the assessed value of the land would increase if the project were built, he questioned whether that increase would make up for a “devaluation of neighbouring properties.”
“This jewel of Victoria will be lost forever if we allow six stories,” he said.
In reference to questions from the public about whether the project was already a “done deal,” Screech clarified that no decision has yet been made. He added that giving first and second reading to a zoning bylaw amendment only indicates there is enough interest from council in an application to send it to public hearing.
Watch upcoming editions of the Gazette for notification of that public hearing.