A community destination for Gordon Head

Posted by on Mar 18, 2011

Coffee shop mandated for Gordon Head corner lot
By Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

Council’s position seemed pretty clear. Either a coffee shop is guaranteed for the corner of Tyndall and San Juan avenues, or the property would not get rezoned.

After councillors expressed extreme discontent that Matt Pye wouldn’t commit in writing to a coffee shop, he ultimately agreed to a one-year covenant requiring one.

“It’s always been our intent to have a coffee shop there,” said Pye, representing a consortium of co-workers developing the property. “But covenanting the use (of the space) doesn’t fit with the free market (philosophy).”

Coun. Vic Derman explained he had no doubt believing Pye and his colleagues at Active Earth Engineering when they said they have almost secured the café. However, Derman said it’s council’s responsibility to ensure residents have some guarantee a neighbourhood destination will be built.

“That coffee shop is critical to the viability of this project. The issue of neighbourhood walkability on this project relies on the question: walk to what?” Derman said.

“If there isn’t a covenant on the space and it becomes mixed-use residential and office, then the building’s just a benign entity in the community,” Coun. Susan Brice said.

The development will replace the existing derelict corner store in Gordon Head and will include four homes, some office space and the coffee shop, which could include a deli.

Neighbours spoke almost entirely in favour of the project, but – echoing councillors’ sentiments – they repeated concerns about ensuring the coffee shop is part of the plan.

The three-storey building will be adjacent to Tyndall Park, which made the coffee shop a selling feature of the project.

“I have yet to experience a cold, Saturday morning on the sidelines of the soccer field there, but I’m sure that day’s coming. Now I look forward to walking across the street to pick up a coffee,” Coun. Dean Murdock said.

Overall, Pye is quite pleased with the approval of the project and says he hopes to have the old convenience store bulldozed “in the very near future.”

Council gave first, second and third readings to the rezoning application at public hearing Tuesday night.