Plans for a major housing development in Saanich’s urban core are becoming more concrete as the redevelopment of the Nigel Valley area near Municipal Hall goes before council Monday.
“I look forward to the upcoming council meeting, where we will hear from the applicant, and the community,” said Mayor Richard Atwell. “If approved, it will be a multi-year construction project that will increase support services for our community.”
The proposal would increase the number of residential units up to a maximum of 796 units — up from 186 — as part of a project that would involve 12 separate properties, five property owners (including Saanich) and five agencies that deliver affordable and supportive housing.
They include the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation, the Broadmead Care Society, Garth Homer Foundation, and the Capital Mental Health Association with B.C. Housing serving as the coordinating agency and applicant.
Twenty-seven per cent of the units would qualify as market housing, with the rest considered affordable and supportive housing.
The proposal would require the readjustment of several properties and change the viewscape of Saanich. It would create nine new properties. Proposed maximum heights for developments range from five, six, eight and 16 storeys — four above the maximum height preferred by the Mount View Colquitz Community Association. The likely signature building of the project would be a residential tower of up to 16 storeys at the corner opposite of the intersection between Vernon Avenue (Blanshard Street) and Ravine Way.
Proposed community contributions include a public plaza and a new park next to the Lochside Regional Trail.
Plans call for the creation of a separate zone to guide the complex project, which Atwell believes will have the same significance as Uptown.
“Like Uptown, this is a major development for Saanich in our ‘city centre,’” he said.
A report from Sharon Hvozdanski, Saanich’s director of planning, endorses the application.
“In accordance with the Official Community Plan, the proposed development would provide a range of housing types that can accommodate people of different ages, income, family structures, and physical and social needs,” she said. “It would allow people with special needs to become or remain part of the community in new customized accommodation.”
She said. proposal would foster the development of a community that is “safe, diverse, and inclusive and where social interaction, physical activity, sense of place, and neighbourliness are actively promoted and supported.”
But her report also includes a list of items that require resolution including servicing issues, the drafting of master development and housing agreements, and the purchase of municipal-owned land.
While Monday’s meeting will decide whether the project will get a public hearing, public consultations date back to early 2015.