Saanich council voted unanimously to send to public hearing a rezoning and development permit application for 1555 McKenzie Ave. at its meeting Monday night (July 18).
But a provincial bill passed last year now allows local governments to waive public hearings on proposed zoning bylaws if an official community plan is in effect for the area and if the bylaw is consistent with the plan. Despite such an option, Mayor Fred Haynes and councillors made a strong case for a public hearing, even if one is no longer required.
“This applicant has asked to go for a public hearing and I think what we heard in the presentation is a number of issues that would be good for the community to see,” Haynes said. “It’s in the applicant’s interest, they’ve asked for it, and it’s in the public interest – and I believe it’s in staff and council’s interest that we get an opportunity to look at some of the remarkable things that we heard this evening about this application.”
The application proposes to rezone the area of the former McKenzie Professional Centre from general commercial to neighbourhood mixed-use and construct a six-storey rental apartment building with commercial space at ground level and underground parking.
The building itself would contain 372 apartments, 12 townhouses, one level of underground parking and almost 2,000 square metres of commercial space. It would include a mixture of unit types and sizes – from micro suites to three-bedroom units. Public plaza space with seating and an art feature is also proposed at the intersection of McKenzie Avenue and Shelbourne Street.
The first reading of the application is scheduled for council’s next meeting Aug. 15, with the public hearing scheduled for Aug. 23.