View Royal Mayor David Screech alleged two councillors made questionable arguments in opposition to a variance that would add an extra storey to the two buildings in a proposed Thetis Lake housing development.
“I cannot understand, when we know the variance for the extra storey is still less than the height allowed, how anyone can vote against that,” he said. “All we would do by knocking off that extra storey is put up the rent for everybody and probably [render] the project unfeasible.”
Council deliberated variances relating to the development permit application for the proposed mixed-use apartments at 1938 West Park Ln. on Tuesday. Couns. Ron Mattison and John Rogers both expressed opposition to the proposed variance that would raise the apartments from five stories to six.
“I don’t know how anyone, when you’re talking about good use of land, when it’s gonna be less high than what a five-storey building could be, can vote against that – unless you’re just dedicated to sinking the project,” Screech said.
Mattison argued that the building would peek further over the cover of trees when driving by on the highway, making the building less aesthetically pleasing.
“This region is in a housing crisis, that’s probably the number one thing. To be arguing about the details we’re arguing about is just pointless when people don’t have homes,” Screech said.
Vacancy rates for rentals in Greater Victoria are at 1.2 per cent, according to a 2018 Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation rental market report.
“We talk about housing policy – with respect to my partners that have been up here on council for as long as I have – when have we ever talked about it before? When have we ever said we need to have an affordable housing policy in View Royal,” Screech said. “When, seriously, until this application came along? To say we need a plan now is questionable.”
During discussions, Rogers expressed concern about noise and requested staff look into whether the buildings would amplify highway noises for surrounding neighbourhoods and asked whether triple-paned windows were required for more windows to lessen noise from reverberations throughout the buildings.
Rogers also asked staff to look into whether a nearby earthen dam would be affected by the development. He also expressed concern that people living in studio apartments at the affordable housing building would feel isolated.
“Yeah, I think it’s a miss,” he said ahead of casting his vote.
The motion for variances was carried with Mattison and Rogers opposed. It raised the number of building storeys from five to six, increased the number of impervious surfaces allowed from 50 per cent to 72, and raised the maximum height of retaining walls from 1.2 to 4.1 metres.