Garry oak woodlands development denied for Victoria’s Gonzales neighbourhood

Council unanimously declines application

Victoria city council voted unanimously to decline a development in the Gonzales neighbourhood that would have destroyed 11 Garry oak trees.

Twelve members of the public, many neighbours in close proximity to the property, spoke at a public hearing Thursday in opposition of the development permit with variances at 515 Foul Bay Rd., which borders Abkhazi Gardens. Two people, including one adjacent neighbour, spoke in favour of the application. The Alpha Developments project proposed to build three two-storey homes next to the existing early 1900s mansion, which was previously converted into five rental units.

The loss of Garry oak trees, the proposal’s incompatibility with the Gonzales neighbourhood plan, and loss of privacy for neighbours were the most common reasons given for lack of support for the development.

Mary Callaghan, said she could hardly believe the proposal had made it this far because it does not comply with Gonzales plan, which was damaging the City’s relationship with the neighbourhood.

“Trust has been eroded between when this plan was implemented and approved, and what’s going on now,” she said. “If you don’t have trust, then you don’t have much left when you’re coming to work with people.”

Janet Simpson said she could not understand why the city’s planning staff and council would spend time on a proposal that did not enhance the neighbourhood.

“This proposal is an insult to all the neighbours who bought their large, beautiful tree-covered properties in good faith that the zoning and neighbourhood plan would be respected,” she said. “It’s an insult to the city’s commitment to protecting and preserving native ecosystems and adapting to climate change.”

RELATED: Development a risk to Garry oak woodlands: neighbour

Mayor Lisa Helps moved to decline the application rather than send it back for revisions.

“We do need more housing, and if we’re not going to build it in neighbourhoods, and if we’re going to protect the Garry oaks – which I think this council is very committed to – then we are going to need to have more density on corridors and in village centres in the downtown,” she said. “Hopefully the applicant will work with the neighbourhood to find something that can go here because I think that something can.”

Coun. Pamela Madoff said Victoria is an attractive place to live, but for a particular reason.

“If we keep densifying in this way, nobody’s going to want to live in Victoria, because we’re destroying the very thing people want to experience,” she said to applause in the chambers. “What you need on a site like this is an architectural response that, when you look at it you say, this is the only place these buildings could be or should be.”

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

 

Fred Rohani of Alpha Developments, said much of the native vegetation on the 515 Foul Bay Rd. property would have been preserved as “urban forest.” His company’s application for a development permit was declined by Victoria City Council. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Just Posted

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Fire destroys South Island Concrete building in Sooke

No injuries resulted from large structure fire

OUR VIEW: Search and rescue organization needs to be examined

No organization should be immune to scrutiny

Over 100 take the Vancouver Island polar plunge

More than $25,000 raised for BC Special Olympics athletes

VIDEO: Thousands enjoy Family Day fun in Saanich

Cedar Hill Recreation and Arts Centre hosts Family Arts Festival

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Most Read