The District of Sooke wants to discuss partnership opportunities with the Capital Region Housing Corporation to develop Lot A.
Council directed staff Monday to open a dialogue with the Capital Region Housing Corporation with an eye to building housing and public amenities.
The district bought the two-hectare property, located between Anna Marie and Townsend roads, to house a new state-of-the-art library and other public amenities in 2016.
So far, only the new public library is planned for the property.
In 2018, the council hired Keycorp Planning to develop a plan for the property. The consultant identified several uses for the land, including affordable housing units, a regional health centre, offices, room for a farmers’ market, and performance areas.
Earlier this year, the council followed up with a request for expressions of interest in developing the property. The district received no submissions.
Through limited discussions with potential developers, municipal staff believed the expression of interest was “too ambitious and difficult” to determine how and when a developer could gain a profit from the proposed development.
Staff suggested talking with the Capital Region Housing Corporation could open up options and resources for Lot A development.
“What we’re looking for at this point is some of the experiences that the Capital Regional District has from the 46 other housing properties it’s developed over the years,” said Matthew Pawlow, director of planning.
Coun. Al Beddows questioned the need at this point to involve the Capital Region Housing Corporation when the council still hasn’t completed its strategic plan. “I’m not convinced about putting housing on Lot A,” he said.
Beddows concerns were eased when Pawlow said the district was just interested in gaining feedback from the CRD.
Mayor Maja Tait said the last update of the strategic plan did mention the development of Lot A, which triggered the expression of interest to go out.
“This is the latest stage in a series of steps that’s got us to this point,” Coun. Jeff Bateman said.
Bateman said it’s a good idea to talk to the Capital Region Housing Corporation about housing and other public amenities. Of the 46 housing projects run by the corporation, none are in Sooke, and the closest is at the Colwood-Langford border.
“Somehow, we’ve been cut out of the pie (by B.C. Housing and the CRD),” he said.