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Saanich approves city’s first-ever development with zero parking

Nine-unit townhouse complex to replace single-family home at corner of Richmond Road and Allenby Street
Urban Thrive’s nine-unit townhouse complex at 2859 Richmond Rd. in Saanich is the first development to be approved by council that doesn’t offer parking. (Courtesy Urban Thrive Developments)

A nine-unit townhouse development in Saanich designed to provide much-needed density - all while encouraging a car-free lifestyle - has passed the council hurdle.

Council unanimously approved the required zoning and official community plan changes for a nine-unit townhouse complex that will replace a single-family home at the corner of Richmond Road and Allenby Street. The vote followed an almost five-hour public hearing Nov. 29 which saw overwhelming support voiced for the multi-family residential development.

According to the district, it’s the first development permit application approved by council that doesn’t offer any parking.

Developer Urban Thrive says the townhouse complex is specifically tailored for middle-income families and individuals who want to live without a car, which is why no parking is being proposed for the site at 2859 Richmond Rd.

The site will include storage for 18 bicycles and additional space for nine cargo bikes. Residents will also receive a Modo car-share membership, while a dedicated car-share stall and electric vehicle charging station are planned nearby on Allenby Street.

“These homes reflect what Saanich aspires to be – a leader in sustainability and community well-being,” Julian West, Urban Thrive founder, said. “This is what meaningful progress towards our housing and climate goals looks like.”

Situated near cycling paths on Foul Bay Road, as well as major bus routes along Richmond and Lansdowne roads, West said the location is ideal for car-free living. He added that it’s close to services and amenities like Royal Jubilee Hospital and Hillside Shopping Centre.

Despite concerns from nearby residents that the project is too big for the predominately single-family home neighbourhood - and skepticism that people who move in won’t own vehicles - the project was supported by a number of speakers residing in other municipalities across Greater Victoria during the public hearing.

Coun. Colin Plant acknowledged residents’ fears of change, but said nine units is simply not that big. Plant said, however, that it is a step in the right direction.

“To me, this is a form of Saanich trying to find its own missing middle housing,” he said. “And this is a unique project that in many ways is going to be a pilot. I recognize that a lot of the proximal neighbours are not thrilled … but on balance for the entire municipality, I think this a good direction. And if we want to make change to our community climate emissions, we know that transportation and high-quality buildings are the way to do that. The status quo isn’t going to cut it.”

Coun. Zac de Vries also spoke in favour of the development, saying that the nine-unit townhouse complex offers an entirely new vision for Saanich.

“If we’re reinforcing the current pattern of built environment, we’re also reinforcing the lack of affordability, sustainability and equity that we’re experiencing,” de Vries said. “This application, however, is a departure from what we’ve seen traditionally in Saanich … it really asks the question of what types of styles of life are out there that we can accommodate.”

Work on the project is not anticipated to begin for another six to nine months and construction is expected to take 12 months.

Austin Westphal

About the Author: Austin Westphal

Austin Westphal is the newest member to join the Saanich News team.
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