Garry oak woodlands development denied for Victoria’s Gonzales neighbourhood

Council unanimously declines application

Victoria city council voted unanimously to decline a development in the Gonzales neighbourhood that would have destroyed 11 Garry oak trees.

Twelve members of the public, many neighbours in close proximity to the property, spoke at a public hearing Thursday in opposition of the development permit with variances at 515 Foul Bay Rd., which borders Abkhazi Gardens. Two people, including one adjacent neighbour, spoke in favour of the application. The Alpha Developments project proposed to build three two-storey homes next to the existing early 1900s mansion, which was previously converted into five rental units.

The loss of Garry oak trees, the proposal’s incompatibility with the Gonzales neighbourhood plan, and loss of privacy for neighbours were the most common reasons given for lack of support for the development.

Mary Callaghan, said she could hardly believe the proposal had made it this far because it does not comply with Gonzales plan, which was damaging the City’s relationship with the neighbourhood.

“Trust has been eroded between when this plan was implemented and approved, and what’s going on now,” she said. “If you don’t have trust, then you don’t have much left when you’re coming to work with people.”

Janet Simpson said she could not understand why the city’s planning staff and council would spend time on a proposal that did not enhance the neighbourhood.

“This proposal is an insult to all the neighbours who bought their large, beautiful tree-covered properties in good faith that the zoning and neighbourhood plan would be respected,” she said. “It’s an insult to the city’s commitment to protecting and preserving native ecosystems and adapting to climate change.”

RELATED: Development a risk to Garry oak woodlands: neighbour

Mayor Lisa Helps moved to decline the application rather than send it back for revisions.

“We do need more housing, and if we’re not going to build it in neighbourhoods, and if we’re going to protect the Garry oaks – which I think this council is very committed to – then we are going to need to have more density on corridors and in village centres in the downtown,” she said. “Hopefully the applicant will work with the neighbourhood to find something that can go here because I think that something can.”

Coun. Pamela Madoff said Victoria is an attractive place to live, but for a particular reason.

“If we keep densifying in this way, nobody’s going to want to live in Victoria, because we’re destroying the very thing people want to experience,” she said to applause in the chambers. “What you need on a site like this is an architectural response that, when you look at it you say, this is the only place these buildings could be or should be.”

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

 

Fred Rohani of Alpha Developments, said much of the native vegetation on the 515 Foul Bay Rd. property would have been preserved as “urban forest.” His company’s application for a development permit was declined by Victoria City Council. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Just Posted

Westshore Rebels game postponed due to poor air quality conditions

Games expected to continue the following week

Book sheds light on Metchosin landmark

Gracefield Manor has long, storied past

Langford teacher nominated for prestigious award

Tony Sansom felt very ‘honoured’ to be recognized

Doug Kobayashi adds another post to his resume

Kobayashi joins the Board of Governors

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read