Colwood council gives initial OK to 187-unit, high density building
A 187-unit highrise development proposed for the corner of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Latoria Road got the nod from Colwood council to move on to public consultation.
The building would replace one single family home at 594 Latoria Road and undeveloped treed property behind it, on a 0.96 hectare (2.4 acres) lot across from the Latoria Walk subdivision.
Coun. Judith Cullington, acting-chair at the planning meeting where the proposal was discussed before it was voted on at council, said the proponent may have difficulty getting neighbours to support for the development. Thirty residents came to the committee meeting to express disapproval.
“Mainly they were concerned with the density and height of the proposed development, and some brought up traffic flow and pedestrian safety,” Cullington said.
Single-storey homes on the property next to the proposed development would be dwarfed by a tiered building with five storeys at its low end, facing Latoria Road, and a maximum of 11-storeys along VMP.
“I’ve been looking up at a lot of 11-storey buildings as I’ve been considering this application,” Cullington said. “It seems high for the area, but what I’ve realized is you don’t really look up at buildings. You just look at what’s at ground level.”
Developer Mojtaba Shahab of Parsi Development has planned ground floor commercial space, suggesting a restaurant and day care, as well as other offices, retail stores and live-work spaces.
The project is designed to be pedestrian friendly with landscaping separating walkways from the street and a pond fed naturally from Latoria creek.
The applicant is asking to purchase a nearly 3,000 square metre section of city-owned, surplus road right of way that was designated to become part of VMP. The land is valued at $535,000 and the developer has suggested that money could go back into the project and be used to create a roundabout at the VMP-Latoria intersection, worth $1 million that the developer would install, potentially sharing the cost with other developers in the area.
Mayor David Saunders thought this was a fair trade.
“The road (right-of-way) is non-taxable surplus land and this would be a way to start collecting taxes on it,” he said, noting that he supports the density of the project because it would increase the tax base.
“The same arguments we’re hearing in opposition to this project we heard when we were considering Latoria Walk, and I think everybody is glad we went ahead with that,” Saunders said. “These are the type of bold moves we have to take to set a strong foundation for the future of this city.”
The only councillor to speak in opposition to the project was Coun. Cynthia Day who said the official community plan doesn’t support such high density in the area.
“This isn’t a suitable development for this neighbourhood,” she said. “Latoria Valley was designated as a minor centre, not a major centre.”
But Cullington pointed out that the OCP allows for higher density in exchange for more amenities.
“The proposal will benefit the City of Colwood and residents. It comes with a very strong amenity package,” she said.
In addition to road improvements, the developer would improve Latoria creek and make financial contributions to funds for community amenities, affordable housing, public art, and fire hall upgrades and high-rise training for firefighters.
The applicant will have to develop a riparian habitat preservation plan for the creek prior to public hearing.