A controversial development in Colwood is inching closer to a decision, but residents are not letting up on making their concerns heard.
A bylaw amendment to allow BC Alta Developments to build four six-storey apartment towers totalling 280 units across two separate properties straddling Veterans Memorial Parkway and up against Havenwood Park is tentatively set to come before council Feb. 14, after council passed a motion Dec. 13 to direct staff to prepare the amendment for readings and voting.
The developer originally made the application in December 2020, and submitted an updated application in May 2021. The current zoning was created in 2014 to allow for a previous plan to build 22 single-family homes.
Since the developer began the application process, residents living around the park have been vocal in opposition, including creating an online petition that as of Jan. 22 had more than 3,800 signatures.
Resident concerns focus on several key points, including the potential impact the increased density will have on the neighbourhood and the ecology of the park, and that the proposed development does not fit within the city’s Official Community Plan.
At its Sept. 27, 2021 meeting, council requested the applicant provide a more extensive report focusing on enhanced riparian, geotechnical and hydrogeological assessments.
Staff concluded in their Dec. 13 report to council that the additional reporting was satisfactory and recommended authorization to prepare the bylaw amendment for reading.
Despite the additional studies and information from the developer, resident Brian Semenko told council then that he remained opposed to the proposal as it would bring too many people into a quiet, natural area.
“Instead of going for a nice quiet stroll through the woods, you will be accosted by the size of the buildings and the noise of hundreds of people and vehicles in the area,” he said. “Many of these problems, including the problem of density, could be solved by building three-storey townhomes, or mitigated by lowering the tower blocks … but the developer has not been willing to compromise.”
While the majority of citizens who submitted written or in-person feedback to council spoke against the proposal, some were in favour.
Marc Fredette and Patti Jordanne wrote that they have been satisfied owners of a home developed by BC Alta, and supported the proposal because of the urgent need for more affordable housing in the community. The formal bylaw amendment is scheduled to come before council for first and second readings on Feb. 14. Should those first two of three readings be approved, a formal public hearing will be held before the amendment is read for a third and final time, and council casts final votes.
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