A project the community can be proud of

Deadline set for demolishing eyesores on Inverness and Cloverdale
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

A half-block of derelict buildings will soon no longer be an eyesore for passing motorists or nearby residents.

Four vacant houses on the corner of Cloverdale Avenue and Inverness Road will be demolished by August 2011 to make way for a 42-unit residence and coffee shop.

At public hearing Tuesday night, Saanich council unanimously gave first, second and third readings to issue a rezoning application and development permit to build The Rutledge complex.

The process has taken years, with agreement between council and the developer taking a number of meetings to achieve.

“We’ve seen this issue come before us (at least) five times,” Coun. Dean Murdock said, unsatisfied that the development needed to come back so many times to get what council wanted.

“It should not have come to this. I don’t want to see this chamber become a place of negotiation on community amenities.”

Council approved the development after securing a number of covenants on the property.

As well as a firm deadline for demolition of the existing dilapidated homes, council was able to get a commitment on 32 environmental sustainability initiatives, a contribution to Saanich’s Affordable Housing Fund, alternative transportation incentives for resident and upgrades to the adjacent Rutledge Park.

Tuesday’s public hearing was a continuation of one held last week, which lasted four hours before council asked the developer to return with more information and specifics.

“I think we got the correct development here, rather than saying ‘we need something on that space and anything would do.’ I think that didn’t happen here,” said Coun. Paul Gerrard.

Though many people came out in strong support of the development, there were also a number of concerns, which Gerrard said were addressed by council.

“Democracy’s a messy process, but it certainly turned out a better development here for the community,” said Coun. Wayne Hunter.

The Rutledge will be a 42-unit residence with a small commercial business on the main floor. A covenant was secured to ensure the use of that space be limited to a coffee shop for at least two years.

Coun. Vicki Sanders thanked the community for their patience and input in the long-fought battle to improve the corner properties.

“This has been a black cloud for council for quite some time,” she said. “But I look forward to the day when I get asked ‘Where’s Cloverdale and Inverness?’ and I can say, ‘It’s that gorgeous building next to that beautiful park.’”

Final reading of the applications will go to council at a later date.