Christie Point remake is too large for site

View Royal redevelopment would drastically alter landscape of Portage Inlet

Re: Christie Point redevelopment (Looking ahead to 2017, View Royal, Dec. 30)

I read Mayor Screech’s vision for 2017 with particular interest about the Christie Point redevelopment project. He states, “It puts the (increased) residential density in an appropriate place.”

The developers are proposing one four-storey and six six-storey buildings. This contravenes the recently-adopted Official Community Plan limiting apartments at Christie Point to a height of four storeys (13.5m).

It is council’s role to maintain predictability in zoning and to maintain the policies of the OCP. I have spoken with others who sat with me on the OCP community committee. Our view is unchanged; i.e., that four storeys be the upper limit. It is incumbent on the developer to plan any increase in the number of units from the present 161 to whatever number can be achieved considering the constraints of the site.

Anything over four storeys will be above the tree height; it will form a new viewscape of excessive mass – comparable to a cruise ship anchored in Portage Inlet. It will be obtrusive and destructive to a beautiful natural setting and it will be totally inappropriate for the natural surroundings and nearby neighbourhoods.

Christie Point is a natural urban forest, not downtown Toronto. Portage Inlet is a federal bird sanctuary. In doubling the present building height to four storeys, the bird/window collision death toll will be doubled and tripling the height will cause more again. Birds are already in decline. According to the B.C. Coastal Waterbird Survey, a one-day bird count of 15 years ago in Portage Inlet averaged 1,517. In the last five years this has dropped by 80 per cent to 292.

This year, the Capital Regional District celebrates The Urban Sanctuaries Project (sanctuaryproject.ca) in Portage Inlet, as a juvenile salmon nursery and migratory bird route are threatened.

View Royal residents should also be alert to other impacts from this redevelopment: increased traffic on Island Highway, on-site parking, noise and new market housing rental rates, which will force present tenants into an unaffordable situation.

Watch the Town’s meeting agendas for Realstar’s looming rezoning application, then write to mayor and council. State your concerns and your expectation that council will protect you from developers with deep pockets by following the community’s advice as designated in the OCP.

Doug Critchley, View Royal

Research director, Portage Inlet Protection Society