A Saanich developer hopes to return for a second public hearing to rezone an area near Maple Park Tarrace after being rejected by Sooke council.
“I’ve already submitted the application, so it’s just up to council to make a motion for another public hearing,” said Michael Volk, the developer of View Pointe Estates, located at Maple Park Terrace.
The area was previously zoned for development made up of approximately 400 units, but View Pointe Estates bought the land and is proposing reduce the amount of lots to about 137, and increase parkland.
The plan also includes installing trail corridors, nature viewing areas, a playground and picnic area, and parking for visitors. The developer has agreed to maintain the park for the first five years after it’s installed.
Though councillors were pleased to see a reduction in density from the proposal, they voiced concerns about affordability, traffic and parking in the area, and public opinion.
Multiple members of the public were also there to voice their concerns.
Maple Park Terrace residents felt snubbed because the previous developer had not followed through on a promise to hook up houses to the municipal sewer system.
“I was caught a little off guard by that because no one had brought the issue to me until right then. But I talked to my civil engineer and we can put a pressure line in for the rest of the residents to get hooked up,” Volk said.
Other residents said they were concerned with the amount of traffic the development would bring to the area.
“The property is already zoned for 400 plus units, and we brought it down to about 130, so there’s going to be a lot less traffic than the original plan,” Volk said.
Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, who voted to reject the proposal, said she thinks the developer should have better addressed the neighbourhood’s concerns and the impact the rezoning would have on residents.
“I think there needs to be some more community outreach. I didn’t hear one positive thing from residents that night, and that’s who we are here to represent,” Tait said.
“That neighbourhood has endured a lot over the years, blasting, dust, all that sort of thing, and I don’t know if some of their concerns were taken into consideration under the new proposal. We’ve seen it before where a proposal failed because the community was not engaged in the process.”
Tait also noted some concerns regarding affordability of the lots and houses that would go up in the development.
“This is not an affordable housing project at all from what I can see, and I was not clear on the developer’s idea as to how affordability would be achieved,” she said.
“What I hear from residents is that we need affordable housing, for first time buyers to be able to enter the market, and for renters to have access to affordable rental units. It was stated this project is purely to benefit builders, so it doesn’t mean local residents are having any form of access in to housing.”
Volk responded to Tait’s comment, saying the houses would likely contain suits, giving buyers an option to help pay off their mortgage as well as open up spaces for renters.
“It’s a double win,” Volk said. “And with the views in that area, you can’t find a more affordable lot right now in Sooke than what we’re doing.”
Volk said the proposal is solid and he doesn’t plan to make changes to it before returning to council, other than bringing letters of recommendation from residents of Maple Creek Terrace.
“This proposal is well thought out, and everybody loves it,” Volk said..