Keycorp Planning, the consulting firm responsible for gathering public input on the muchanticipated Lot A development, has given Sooke council its first peek at possible options for the two-hectare site.
The concept plans were developed by Keycorp after a public consultation process.
Some of the highlights of the plan include a central spine road with a single access point to the site, easy bus access, a pedestrian-friendly mall and farmers’ market area, and a water feature to allow for stormwater retention.
Nialle Paltiel, a planner representing Keycorp, said there were a multitude of viewpoints expressed about what the plan should include.
“We have the library site, of course, but we also heard that the community wants under-slab parking, a community drop-in centre for seniors and youth, affordable housing … there was a lot there,” he said, adding there was also concern expressed about retaining the tree cover on the property and easy access to Evergreen Centre as a future consideration.
The presentation at the Jan. 21 meeting came after a lengthy period of public consultation guided by Keycorp that included a 2½-day public input session in early December, stakeholder meetings, a public open house and even some door knocking to get input from the community.
Keycorp also brought forward some recommendations and discussions surrounding what zoning amendments would be required to accommodate the Lot A development.
“Zoning is always a thorny issue and we presented some options for how the land could be zoned to accommodate the development,” Paltiel said.
While there was no request to approve a specific plan at Jan. 21 meeting, council did endorse the general concept plan and sent Keycorp back to the community to get further public feedback and to present a plan for final review.
“This is still a bit of a blank canvas, but with the community input we’ll still be getting, we’ll be able to put together an action plan that’s deliverable, with steps going forward to ensure that this district-owned asset continues as a valuable piece of the community, well into the future,” Paltiel said.
“Depending on the amount of feedback we receive at the open house we’re planning for mid-February, our final report and recommendations will be brought forward in late February or early March.”
While the concept for Lot A was conceptualized as far back as 2009 when the district adopted the town centre plan, the project got traction in 2016 when the property, located at 6671 Wadams Way, was bought by the district and it was announced the new Vancouver Island Regional Library branch would be located on the site.
That led to calls from the community for specific plans for what to do with the rest of the property. It wasn’t long before a series of competing interests came forward with their own version of what should be included in eventual site plans.
In response, Keycorp was contracted late in 2018 to guide a public input process.
“In terms of the planning process, they did a good job in getting the community’s feedback,” said Coun. Tony St. Pierre.
“They did a great job of reaching out, especially to the young people within the community. There was really also a good breadth of stakeholders who were engaged in the process.”