EDITORIAL: Keep safety front of mind

Colwood council must remain mindful of schools and traffic concerns with Metchosin/Painter roads development proposal

From a media perspective, it’s always worth paying attention when local residents and their city council are at loggerheads over certain issues.

Residents who live around the area of Painter and Metchosin roads in Colwood turned out yet again this week to hear the latest council table discussion about a large residential development proposed for the former Pilgrim United Church site.

While the majority of council seem fairly satisfied with how the project is moving through the process – they voted four to two to send the plan back to staff to tweak before it receives first reading – residents remain convinced that their concerns are not being listened to by their elected officials.

Instructed not to rehash old arguments against the proposal, which calls for nine single-family homes and a pair of multi-unit apartment buildings, residents were articulate in their newest criticisms of the project, and the way the city’s planning and land-use committee treated this application for rezoning.

The proposed development site, on which the church still stands, is in the centre of a busy school zone. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,300 students come and go every day to the two adjacent schools, Sangster elementary and Dunsmuir middle school, and Wishart elementary a little ways down Owens Road. That creates a lot of traffic, both pedestrian and cycling, and more importantly vehicle traffic in the area.

We agree with one resident who voiced incredulousness at the fact the Sooke School District has not been a key participant in discussions on traffic flow in and out of the potential residences, specifically around the need to keep students and other school-related visitors safe.

This seems to be a no-brainer and something that should be high on the list of priorities for Colwood city staff and council in dealing with this development.

Answering the question of whether the density level being projected for this project in its current state is appropriate for the area – is it in a corridor zone or a neighbourhood zone? – will go along way to determining how comfortable neighbours feel about this proposal.

Indications to this point are that council won’t ask for a significant reduction in the number of dwellings included in the development. And that’s not going to sit well with the neighbours, especially the 200-plus residents who signed a petition saying they aren’t comfortable with the number of residents who would be added to this busy neighbourhood.

It’s very unlikely that the developers will choose to go ahead with a smaller project.

In the event that some version of the larger project is approved, it’s paramount that the factor of safety be front of mind for the decision makers as this neighbourhood- transforming project moves forward.

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