Shipyard zoning concessions contemplated by Victoria council

United Engineering Building derelict, but its replacement location up in the air

Four years since adopting design guidelines for the industrial harbourfront, the city is taking steps to break its own rules in order to accommodate some very special circumstances.

Ralmax Group of Properties proposes building a larger version of its United Engineering facility – 21 metres high – on the north end of its Point Hope Shipyards site, but needs council approval for a height variance.

Currently, the property’s height restrictions vary between three and 19 metres, depending on proximity to the water. The new building could also be placed anywhere within a 137-metre envelope.

Ralmax leases its land from the city, which took the unusual step of putting forward the rezoning application.

The idea is “to provide the greatest maximum potential for different choices to be made,” said Coun. Marianne Alto.

Alto sits on the planning and land-use committee, which last week voted to recommend that council approve the variance.

The current United Engineering building is derelict and needs to be replaced within two years, said Ralmax president and CEO, Ian Maxwell. The operation also needs to be relocated, because its current location interferes with Point Hope’s business.

Originally, Maxwell planned to build a new facility south of the current location, toward the Johnson Street Bridge. He spent $1 million in planning on the site, after exercising an option to lease 203 Harbour Rd. from the city.

As the city’s bridge-replacement plans advanced, however, the city determined the need to use most of this lot during the construction phase of the bridge, estimated to last until 2016.

“The city suggested we look at the north end of the site,” said Ralmax spokesperson Kathi Springer. “So Ralmax said ‘yes, absolutely, we can take a look at that, but we’re not going to spend all the money up front to do all the necessary planning … until we have that property (properly) zoned.”

The city’s application to relax zoning could be seen as a form of compensation to Ralmax for the loss of use of 203 Harbour Rd. during bridge construction.

“You could look at it that way,” Alto said. “My view would be that we’re being extra accommodating, because it gives them the best potential to make money. And we want them to make money … which then creates more money for the city and more employment.”

Any concessions by the city, however, might not prove enough.

Feasibility studies could reveal the north end of the property will be unable to accommodate a new building.

If that happens, “we’re going to have to make some very critical decisions on what we’re doing with United Engineering,” Maxwell said.

He is still finalizing the lease for 203 Harbour Rd., with a deadline of Aug. 1.

“I guess we’ll have to sit down and say ‘OK, what’s the date we can actually use the property?'”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Hundreds of foreign species continue to wash along B.C. coast following Japanese tsunami

The Royal BC Museum is home to thousands of samples collected along the west coast of North America

Lone wolf eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

PHOTOS: Hundreds gather in downtown Victoria for Extinction Rebellion climate protest

The rally is the kickoff to the Global Climate Strike Week of Action

Church bells to ring for 11 minutes in support of Global Climate Strike

Each minute to signify years left to drastically reduce greenhouse gas pollution

Tour de Rock kicks off on Saturday morning

The 22nd annual Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock ride will take two weeks to complete

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Royal BC Museum CEO published his own book

Great Expectations, by Royal BC Museum CEO, is now available for purchase.

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read