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Saanich council moves Shelbourne Street proposal to public hearing

Two extra storeys, added density for site not seen as issues, amenity package is
A proposal for a six-storey mixed-use building at the corner of Shelbourne Street and McRae Avenue in Saanich will be the subject of an upcoming public hearing. (Courtesy of Abstract Developments)

Supporters and opponents of a six-storey residential/commercial building proposal along Shelbourne Street will have another chance to speak their minds.

Saanich council voted unanimously Monday (May 9) to send the 87-unit Abstract Developments proposal for 3226 Shelbourne St. and 1641-1647 McRae Ave. to public hearing.

Saanich planning staff have recommended the creation of a new C-16 zone (neighbourhood mixed-use) on the site, the rezoning of the lots from residential to C-16, and the approval of a development permit. The recommendation comes with a long list of project elements that would need to be secured under a covenant.

Among those are the use of $294,000 from the proposed community amenity contribution (totalling $398,000) for a sidewalk on the north side of McRae Avenue between Shelbourne and Keats Avenue, and $103,677 toward Saanich’s affordable housing fund.

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That contribution raised eyebrows around the council table, with several councillors voicing concerns that it may not be enough. The added density on the site drew little opposition, given its location along a main transportation corridor, but the tradeoff for the extra two storeys left some councillors flat.

Speaking just before the vote, Coun. Colin Plant echoed previous comments about the lack of significant public amenities in the current proposal, but took some comfort in knowing changes to that package can be made before a public hearing. He did hint, however, that the developer could well afford more.

“We are going from four to six (storeys) … There is no element of affordability being put into it,” he said. While council approves developments across the spectrum, he added, “when it’s not going to have an element of affordability, it had better serve the community.”

Coun. Susan Brice pointed out the Shelbourne Valley action plan contemplates additional height where a project provides significant community amenities, noting it was important to maintain the integrity of the plan.

No date has been set yet for the public hearing.


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