Sooke has been in the process of a major makeover in the last year or so; a roundabout, sidewalks, an RBC bank (being built as we speak) and a new library, which is still in the discussion stages.
And local developers, such as Jeff Zigay, have been eager to get the ball rolling on even more projects – this time, the rezoning of 6645 Sooke Road (which includes the west half of the future Brownsey Boulevard between Sooke Road and Goodmere Road) from Manufactured Home Park (MHP) to Town Centre Mixed Use (CTC).
But the rezoning process has been slow, as there are limitations in place under Bylaw 613 – notably in regards to building height, which restricts the maximum height to four stories, and what the property in question is prohibited from being used for, such as a car wash, a funeral home and drive-thru facilities.
The developer of the property, Jeff Zigay, said at last week’s council meeting that while he doesn’t have a problem with the suggested prohibited facilities, the time that has taken since the rezoning application was put in to the district over seven months ago is costing him money.
“I would endeavour council to vote against these amendments, they’re very difficult for me to swallow,” Zigay said. “You don’t understand the pressure I’m having with my partners to turn it back into a mobile park; and not a pretty one. We need some income off this land.”
The site – which is approx. 1.7 acres in size – is located just below Sooke Road and slopes down toward the newly-dedicated Goodmere Road. The property has been cleared of most vegetation and contains two mobile homes that are owned by the applicant. It was formerly used as an Mobile Home Park which closed in 2010.
According to the district’s planning reports, the CTC zone was intentionally created to be flexible for developers and provide a multitude of commercial/residential uses in the town centre.
Zigay however, noted that the additional restrictions the CTC zone currently has in place are too difficult to deal with.
“I had to re-mortgage at very high rates because I don’t have any income coming from the property,” he said. “I would like this amendment to be denied, and get something going there.”
Mayor Maja Tait pointed out that there’s great potential for the land there, highlighting the importance of cooperation between the district and the developers who wish to invest in Sooke’s centre attractions.
“Council is supportive of town centre initiatives, because it is and always has been a priority for us, so with all the things happening underway, let’s bring it forward, lets have a discussion,” Tait said, adding that she doesn’t have a problem with the height of the building “I’m excited to start a discussion on it because it’s the first one that’s occurred in a long time.”
Tait also suggested that an institutional use of the building – such as the library – would not have a constraint, however, and could be another possible option.
Councillor Kevin Pearson, along with several others, also expressed interest in re-assessing the CTC zone restrictions, as it could be counter-intuitive to potential new developers in town.
“I don’t like restrictions going on properties and I’m in support of business in general, knowing the market and knowing what they should put on their properties,” Pearson said. “I get frustrated when I hear ‘prohibited’ – I think you can operate within the CTC zone and use the Official Community Plan as your guiding document.”
Discussion is ongoing and council will re-evaluate the future of 6645 Sooke Rd. rezoning application at the upcoming April 27 council meeting.