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Gorge Road property redevelopment topic of Saanich public hearing Tuesday

Townhomes would replace existing 1950s-era 19-unit rental apartment complex
The proposed townhome project for 630 Gorge Rd. West comes to public hearing on July 12, starting at 7 p.m. (Courtesy of Abstract Developments)

Residents and others are invited to voice their concerns or support for a townhome project proposed to replace a decades-old rental complex in Saanich at 630 Gorge Rd. W., at a public hearing Tuesday night (July 12).

The Abstract Developments proposal calls for 25 three-storey townhouse units, configured in five blocks starting just off Gorge Road and stepping up to the back of the property, which is elevated from the road grade.

Due to its mid-block location, the long lot borders not only neighbouring properties to each side on Gorge Road, but five homes on Dysart Road and four on Austin Avenue.

The staff report on the proposal states that the Tillicum local area plan from 2000 calls for maintaining single-family dwellings as the predominant land use, but points out this property is identified as existing multi-family.

Saanich’s official community plan (OCP) supports infill housing, including townhomes and low-rise (up to four storeys) residential on a limited scale in neighbourhoods. But both the OCP and Saanich general development permit guidelines stress the importance of neighbourhood context, building scale and design when evaluating multi-family developments, the report continues.

The added density that would be required on the site is “modest,” staff write.

The existing collection of walk-up and two-storey suites at the Gorge View Apartments contains 19 units. While staff stated they were not aware of plans by Abstract to help relocate existing tenants, company director of marketing and communications Owen Rennison clarified their process.

“Tenants were notified of the pending development plans in 2019 and were offered a compensation package based on similar relocation compensation offered in cities such as Vancouver. The compensation offered came in the form of free rent or cash in lieu based on length of tenancy, along with move-out allowances and assistance with identifying alternate accommodations,” he wrote in an email to Black Press Media. “Any new tenant who entered the building thereafter was informed of the plan to redevelop the property prior to moving in.”

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The design for the frontage calls for minimal landscaping and gated front yards for the five units facing the Gorge waterway. Zoning bylaw variances are requested for lot coverage, setbacks, building separation, building height and parking.

The setbacks under RT-5 (attached housing) zoning requires a 7.5-metre setback to the street and side yards and 10.5 metres to the rear. The proposal calls for 3.71 m setback to the street, 1.86 m to the east side, 2.61 m to the west and 4.2 m to the rear. The original 26-unit plan, calling for a wider block of six units at the rear of the property, was altered to five with a side patio on the east side to allow a Dysart Road resident to keep a native bylaw-protected tree on their property that would have been lost during construction.

Abstract is proposing a $52,000 community amenity contribution ($2,080 per unit) to be allocated for future improvements to Gorge Waterway Park.

The public hearing is first on the agenda Tuesday and is one of two scheduled, the other regarding the district’s proposal for a new No. 2 fire station complex at Royal Oak and Elk Lake drives.

RELATED STORY: Victoria property company plans to replace Saanich apartments with townhouses

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