Excess density, as it relates to traffic and the safety of school children, continues to be an overarching concern for residents opposed to a development proposed for land near the corner of Metchosin and Painter roads in Colwood.
The development, which calls for nine single-family homes along Painter Road and two three-storey apartment buildings backing onto Metchosin Road – directly across from Sangster elementary – was sent back to staff by Colwood council at its Monday meeting, with a few minor changes.
Residents stood up to present specific concerns about the rezoning application to council.
Addressing the additional density being requested by the developers, Painter Road resident John Vincer took the city’s planning and land use committee to task for using what he called “general corridor density” guidelines in an area that is considered a “neighbourhood area” under the existing official community plan. The difference, he said, referencing the OCP, would mean going from 30 dwelling units per hectare to more than 45, which would mean a lot more traffic in the area.
City planning director Ian Bourhill later clarified that the Metchosin corridor calls for a density of 50 to 70 units per hectare, while the development currently sits at approximately 54.
Vincer pointed out that with more than 200 signatures on a petition stating the neighbourhood is “not comfortable with this level of density.” He asked that council “do what the land-use committee did not,” and take into account the wishes of residents who would be most affected by the development.
Katheryn Robertson, who collected the names on the petition, described the regular traffic tieups that happen on Painter Road during school pickup time. She quoted minutes from a previous committee meeting, stating that the road “should not be considered for shared-use lanes.” Using that logic, she said, “you can’t have developments with driveways backing into Painter Road.”
Robertson reminded councillors that the site is adjacent to Sangster elementary and Dunsmuir middle school and near Wishart elementary, each of which has busy pickup times and contributes traffic to the area.
“It’s a triangular piece of land in between three schools and it needs special consideration.”
Coun. Jason Nault echoed Vincer’s statement, saying the site is inappropriately being considered as a corridor. His motion to refer the application back to the land-use committee and try for a scaled-down development, based on public feedback, was defeated.
Coun. Cynthia Day rephrased a number of the public’s statements in the form of questions to Bourhill. Among them, her suggestion to compel the developer to include non-mountable curbs in sections where pedestrian safety is seen to be an issue was approved by council as an amendment to the application.
Other changes council to send back to staff were the inclusion of a small playground in the development, privacy fencing and a more robust tree replacement program.
Before council voted 4-2 to move the application forward, Coun. Gordie Logan, who also sits on the planning and land use committee, predicted the development won’t have the impact on the neighbourhood that residents believe it will.
“The real impact will be when Royal Bay develops,” he said, referring to the massive development planned for a kilometre or so down Metchosin Road.
The application must go through first and second reading before it reaches the public hearing stage.