A new development proposal is raising residents’ eyebrows in Colwood.
A rezoning application for lots at 3320 Metchosin Rd. and 3319 Painter Rd. that proposes putting nine single-family homes and two apartment complexes on the properties, has some neighbours wondering why a motion to bring the proposal before council is moving forward.
“I submitted 234 signatures before (the May 5 planning and land-use committee meeting), so they all knew neighbours would be opposed,” said nearby resident Katheryn Robertson.
“The neighbours I have spoken to, and I have spoken to at least 200, they said if this goes in they want to move. Council is not listening to existing neighbours and not taking us into consideration.”
Robertson said her concerns regarding the Pilgrim United Church location are related to traffic, with the area being a walking route to Wishart and Sangster elementaries and Dunsmuir middle school. The environmental impact of the removal of trees from the area, as well as the potential for a “transient” population moving into the 36-rental units in the two apartment buildings, are also areas of concern, she said.
“There will be 10 driveways; kids will have to manoeuvre every day to and from school,” Robertson said.
Gordie Logan, one of the city councillors on the Planning and Land Use committee, said while he knew the project isn’t popular with some neighbours, the proposal met the spirit of the Official Community Plan. With some amendments and public input, he was confident it could be a strong addition to Colwood.
“(This) focuses the density on a major corridor that is close to transit,” he said. “It’s density located close to schools and new sidewalks in the area will make it safer. (It also includes) an increase in property tax revenue where the city isn’t receiving anything at the moment.”
Logan said a number of different amenities, including the planting of mature trees in place of those removed and a high-quality sidewalk along two sides of the property were among improvements that would complement rather than take away from the area. Plans call for the pedestrian and cyclist pathway running through the property from Painter to Metchosin Road would not only be retained, it will be widened.
“There’s (also) no rental opportunities in that area other than secondary suites, so again, this project fulfills all the goals of the Official Community Plan by focusing density on major roads close to schools and transit. That was a large basis for the committee supporting this particular development,” Logan said.
“The developer has committed to revising the plan on parking, based on feedback provided by residents (at the meeting), especially the access from single-family dwellings on Painter, and to work to reduce the amount of driveways.”
Co-developer Gordon English of Genco Construction Ltd., who is partnering with Dennis Dale of Fairwest Construction Co. Ltd, said a traffic impact assessment report they commissioned and paid for, summarized the project would not impact the existing level of service on either road. English added the bulk of the drivers coming in and out of the complex would leave before school starts and return after school was over, limiting overlap.
“We (are proposing) three-storey buildings – we could have had more – and we are below the maximum units per hectare the OCP would allow,” he said. “We did those things to keep buildings lower and more in scale to what is around there.”
English said his company has historically shown respect for community and the environment, pointing to the Rogers Farm development in Saanich where, he said, 30 mostly fruit trees were removed and replaced with 200 mature trees. He added that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about the type of people who will move into the rental spaces.
“I spend a lot of my time with Habitat with Humanity, helping people with affordable housing, and it would be wrong for anyone to say (people who rent are) less desirable,” he said. “My thoughts are if (the properties) are properly managed, they would bring a desirable element and some diversity to that area that should be embraced.”
English said he understands uncertainty can create hesitation and that his best response would be to do a good job, manage it well and communicate with the public to help address concerns that come along.
“If you are a developer that cares about those things, then you make an effort to make it right,” he said. “It is not what I think, it is more about what we have done and that speaks louder.”
A revised proposal will come before council at an upcoming meeting, with at least one more public meeting expected to be organized in the meantime.