Wednesday night (Feb. 15) the $200-million redevelopment proposal for the Christie Point property will be officially discussed by View Royal council for the first time.
It’s not as if they haven’t already seen what current owner and hopeful developer Realstar is planning for the site. Various open houses have been held and a website devoted to the project has been available online for weeks.
The challenges include blending a much higher density project into an environmentally sensitive site, how to deal with the additional traffic and supporting tenants who are forced to relocate, either temporarily or permanently.
While environmental groups have communicated to council, the public and Realstar the special ecological qualities of the site, this strip of land was lost as a potential bird sanctuary or nature preserve when the first rental buildings went up in 1963.
While pre-construction promises can and often do change by the time a major project is completed, Realstar appears to have gone above and beyond to protect not just the natural species that exist on and around the site, but the humans. The financial supports promised to existing tenants are more generous than required for such a project and are a show of good faith to help relocate people who won’t be in a position to move into a new unit.
We like the idea put forward by Christie Point Advocates member Michelle Wright that the Town consider a tenant relocation and protection plan, similar to Vancouver’s. While those rules are specific to heavily urbanized, high-density areas, some elements could be used here, such as providing more help finding new accommodation and keeping track of housing outcomes for every tenant. Realstar has made a good start on such protections, which should give hope for current tenants.
Change can be hard, and if this project goes ahead, Christie Point residents will have to make some hard choices. But that doesn’t mean this project, once tweaked, can’t work on this property and add much-needed rental housing stock to the Town and region.
It’ll be up to council and staff to ensure promises are kept and the Town’s vision, through the official community plan, is upheld.