After hearing from the public and the Harris Green Village project’s developer, Victoria council will deliberate on what will be done with the proposal on Thursday (Feb. 13).
The Starlight Developments project looks to add almost 1,600 rental units, of which 80 would meet the city’s affordable standard, ranging from studios to three-bedroom townhomes within a boundary encompassing Yates, View, Quadra and Cook streets.
Aside from the large influx of rentals, the proposal will include a half-acre park, daycare, community space that will be rented to the city for free, plus restaurants and commercial spaces that will hopefully retain some of the sites’ current businesses, such as Market On Yates and London Drugs.
Construction would be split into three phases, with 1045 Yates St. being the first.
Those against the project had complaints largely about the proposed heights, what they saw as a lack of affordable housing, the impact of a growing Victoria population in general and not enough greenspace being added.
Others voiced their support, including several who noted they were parents, saying the rentals would be essential for addressing the city’s already bad and worsening housing pinch.
Also speaking out were local post-secondary students who described the immense struggle it was for them to find any housing in the area. One said even though she was constantly applying before the start of the school year, it took six months for a rental building to accept her.
Parking was commonly brought up and residents reflected what Starlight said they had been hearing, which was some people wanted more parking and others said they were providing too much. Starlight said a huge benefit of Harris Green is it’s a walkable area and lends well to other alternative travel modes. Still, several residents still worried about the impact on local traffic downtown.
Height was another major sticking point for those against as the development’s towers would max out at 32 storeys on the west block and 21 on the east block (1045 Yates St.)
Starlight landed on designs with fewer overall but taller towers, which staff would be generously spaced from each other, exceeding the distance between towers that’s outlined in the new Downtown Core Area Plan, and offset from existing buildings.
Jeff Bray, CEO of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said the project would revitalize downtown with its commercial space and mix of units that would support a diverse group of people.
“This is the type of development that our business members rely on to add some vibrancy and vitality,” he said.
The hearing did present an undeniably noticeable theme where older speakers were more likely to oppose the project and younger ones were overwhelmingly supportive.
Council at this point is only considering the design of 1045 Yates St. and a development permit for the south block, which includes the development’s tallest buildings, will come at a later date.
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