Colwood council rejected a proposal for a 142-unit apartment building at 595 Bezanton Way during the Feb. 13 council meeting.
The property has had a storied past in front of council, with a number of proposals coming up for consideration including an eight-townhouse development that was approved but never developed. Now the developers are returning with the higher density pitch, after Colwood reviewed its official community plan and suggested the developers minimize blasting on the project, according to Ian Laing, owner of real estate investment company Laing Properties, one of the backers of the proposal.
This time around six storeys were proposed, as well as two levels of underground parking, which would minimize the footprint of the building and reduce the amount of rock blasting required (the property is on hilly terrain and partially backed by a rocky hill).
“Compared with doing a townhouse site, which would be immense blasting and would be almost moonscaping the property.”
Less blasting means the proposal had 57 per cent of the property remaining undisturbed, above the 40 per cent greenspace requirement Colwood has in its official community plan.
Currently, it’s classed as comprehensive development zone 13 which allows for a maximum height of three storeys and allows for lower-density residential uses and apartment housing for senior citizens. The developers were proposing to up the height limit and add apartments as a usage, something that was met with extensive opposition from members of the public.
A number of residents spoke against the project during the meeting, including Terri Hitchcock, who moved out of her downtown Victoria condo five years ago to Colwood primarily because it was a quiet area to raise her two children.
“This feels like a bait and switch, this is not the Colwood we had imagined,” said Hitchcock, who lives two doors down from the proposed development.
Traffic was another big concern. Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi himself lives in the area and said navigating the morning commute is already a challenge. He also said transit options in the area are lacking.
“Was that an eyeopener for me,” said Kobayashi on the time he tried to take a bus to downtown Victoria.
The developers suggested traffic impacts would be minimal once a road is built to connect Bezanton Way to the Olympic View development which is happening behind the property. Coun. Cynthia Day said the slow movement with Olympic View meant that couldn’t be relied upon to mitigate traffic concerns, while Coun. Dean Jantzen echoed concerns about a lack of certainty over the plan.
In the end, council unanimously voted against the proposal.
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