Tag Archives: development

3-storey commercial building offers early preview of Shelbourne Valley transformation

Signature building to serve as catalyst for Shelbourne renewal
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

While staffers plan out the future of Shelbourne Valley – complete with dense centres and walkable villages – council OK’d what it hopes will be the “catalyst” for that change Monday night.

A small three-storey building – which will house a Vancity credit union, a medical practice and office space – will replace the single-floor dry cleaner and barbershop at the corner of Cedar Hill X Road and Stamboul Street.

Complete with renewed pedestrian walkways, geothermal heating, a green roof and a green wall, council lauded the applicant for collaborating with the community to put forward the best possible proposal.

“They don’t just have an open house and show residents this is what’s going in, they work together with the community to develop something that fits,” said Coun. Dean Murdock.

“This will stand out as the best community development in the area,” Coun. Susan Brice said. “I suspect it’ll be the catalyst to entice other property owners in the area to get moving.”

The building, which was sent to public hearing, includes a 95-per-cent parking variance. (Zoning requires 83 stalls, and only four are proposed.)

Located on the south side of Shelbourne Village Square, there already exists 107 stalls in the parking lot and traffic consultants determined peak parking demand for both the existing mall, which houses Tim Hortons, Macs and Bosley’s Pet Food Mart, and the new building would be 96 stalls. There is also space for roughly 55 cars to park on Kisber and Stamboul streets.

Councillors also commended the applicant’s transportation demand management plan, which includes widening area sidewalks, installing plenty of on-site bicycle storage, building a new bus stop on Shelbourne Street and offering an enticing bus pass program for Vancity employees.

Councillors Leif Wergeland and Judy Brownoff suggested making some design improvements so the non-green walls aren’t so “stark.”

“It’s interesting how these areas and corridors evolve,” noted Coun. Paul Gerrard, “but the one thing they have to have is a signature building. I think this’ll kickstart other buildings to equal it.”

Regional leaders supporting LRT

Politicans join call for light rail transit in Greater Victoria
By Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist

Standing on a busy downtown sidewalk with transit buses rumbling by, politicians from three levels of government said the time has come for light rail transit in Greater Victoria.

Light rail transit “is the most cost effective form of transportation for our future in the region,” said MP Denise Savoie (NDP-Victoria).

“In public transit’s analysis — by any long shot — LRT trumps the bus rapid transit and that’s important. The economic benefits are clear: $1.4 billion in economic benefits,” she said.

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission, the Capital Regional District and the B.C. Transit Board have all endorsed plans for a $950-million light rail system between Victoria and Langford, but say they need support from senior levels of government.

Savoie said LRT cannot be funded through gas taxes or property taxes alone but senior governments have funds that could be tapped.

“The fact is, the money is there. From a federal perspective, the Building Canada fund has budgeted from 2007 to 2014 $10 billion and we know that one of the sub-funds still has 90 per cent unclaimed. So there’s $1 billion in one of the sub-funds that just hasn’t been touched.”

Savoie was flanked by Randall Garrison (NDP-Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), New Democrat MLA Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake), Saanich councillor and CRD director Judy Brownoff, Victoria councillor and Victoria Regional Transit commissioner John Luton and Saanich councillor Dean Murdock.

The group supports the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s call for a third party review of B.C. Transit’s LRT plan. “I don’t know how many people need to be on transit every day in order for that system to be economically viable,” said Chamber CEO Bruce Carter. “I don’t know what that assumption is and what happens if we don’t make it. Those are the types of things we need to understand as well as construction risks.”

Savoie and the others say they are confident any independent analysis would validate the benefits.

“We know other jurisdictions have seen incredible economic growth as a result of rail based systems in their major corridors. We know that it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions considerably and we know it can do a lot to encourage new ridership — in fact double ridership,” said Murdock.

The chamber has endorsed the idea of holding a referendum on LRT — an idea floated by Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard for November’s municipal elections.

But the LRT backers gathered Tuesday were cool to the idea. “I think that would be premature. I don’t think there is a question,” said Fleming. “We have to have further discussions between the three levels of government and cement the partnership further and look at the financing.”

Brownoff, speaking as a CRD representative, said the Douglas Street corridor is plugging up. “Before long the commute time [from the West Shore to downtown Victoria] will be 80 minutes. That’s not sustainable or healthy for this region.”

The LRT proposal is facing opposition from the CRD Business and Residential Taxpayers’ Association. “The LRT will become a yoke around the taxpayer’s neck when costs go over budget, when ridership and revenue do not materialize, when the transit company drops bus routes and cuts service to trim costs and when infrastructure projects are delayed, becoming even more costly,” association chairman Bev Highton has said.

Setting the green standard

Saanich needs to raise its green design standards for commercial and industrial buildings.

A recent application before Council highlighted the deficiency in our energy and environmental design standards. Council approved the redevelopment of a warehouse building in the Ardersier Road commercial-industrial park. The building is a larger upgrade to the existing structure that will create new space for additional tenants.

Absent from the building design were any of the elements that are now commonplace for residential applications. Saanich Council routinely sees proposals that feature geothermal or heat pump systems, green roofs and rain gardens, and solar panels for electricity or hot water. Gold or higher ratings for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and BuiltGreen are a common expectation of applicants. The proposed building, though attractive, did not offer any of these modern design elements.

The lack of sustainable design features is not the fault of the applicant. The proposal contained exactly what’s required for a warehouse building. The design satisfies Saanich’s out-dated development permit guidelines and the BC Building Code. With stronger eco-design standards, this building could have been a model for future commercial development and a source of pride for Saanich.

I support the expansion of commercial and industrial space. A growing local economy is the cornerstone of a healthy community. But smart growth and green design principles aren’t just for condos and houses. Office buildings, warehouses, and retail space must be sustainable as well.

If we’re going to attain a higher level of energy efficiency and environmental design, we must retool our development permit guidelines and raise our design standards for all buildings.

Buildings produce more than 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Saanich. Cutting emissions and reducing energy consumption means focusing on green design and maximizing energy efficiency. Energy efficient buildings will help us to reach our one-third emission reduction target by 2020.

Green buildings also save businesses money with reduced heating and cooling costs. That savings translates into more local jobs and a more prosperous local economy.

Let’s step up lead the charge for innovative energy and environmental design. It’s how we build a healthy economy and a healthy climate for today and the future.

A place to live, work, and for kids to play

Council approves daycare with rooftop playground
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Roofs are not somewhere children should play, said two Saanich councillors last week during discussions about a rezoning request that would allow a daycare with a rooftop play area.

“I don’t think that is an appropriate place for kids to play,” said Coun. Wayne Hunter, who spoke against the proposal along with Coun. Vic Derman. “This is Saanich, not New York or Toronto or L.A – one of those downtown core areas. This is Saanich.”

However, all seven other members on council decided the daycare – along with restrictive covenants – would serve a great need in the Gordon Head community.

“I believe (the roof) is being put to a higher and better use,” said Coun. Susan Brice, referring to the applicant’s original plan to have a green roof at the soon-to-be-built 3959 Shelbourne St.

Derman, who acknowledged that daycare in the area is desirable, said his safety concerns outweighed that need.

“I’m concerned about the lack of attention to what kind of environment will be created on the roof,” he said. “We’ve basically said we’ll make it safe so they aren’t falling off the roof or if they fall on the roof, they’ll just scrape their knee. That’s it.”

Michael Levin with Praxis Architects told council that there will be resilient rubber surface on the roof to act as a better ground for the children to play on. As well, a six-foot-tall concrete parapet will be built around the perimeter to prevent the children from climbing over the ledge of the four-storey building.

Kids and Company, a Canada-wide chain of daycares, will operate the facility. Vancouver Island Health Authority will inspect and license the daycare.

Brenda Gottfried has operated Freedom Childcare Centre on View Street for 16 years. And since Day 1, a 2,200-square-foot rooftop play area that sits atop Laser City Fun Centre has been where kids play during the day.

“It’s never been an issue with parents because all of the developmental things you want to do with kids, we’re able to do,” she said. “We have a garden, we have climbers, we have tricycles, we have sandboxes, we have water play. So what’s missing? Wet, dirty ground.”

The approved covenants restrict access to the roof at only certain times of the day, and will block access to the roof to any other business (without Saanich approval) if the daycare closes down.

Linda Starr, director of sales and marketing with Kids and Company, says they have existing rooftop play areas at locations in Toronto and Calgary – all without problem.

She cites the standard high parapet, which provides safety and acts as a sound barrier, as well as plastic chain link fencing that divides the play areas for children of different ages.

“To ensure the children are properly protected from the sun, we have a retractable awning over the rooftop play areas,” she added.

As Saanich is looking to make more livable “hubs” along Shelbourne Street, approval of daycare is a step in the right direction, Coun. Dean Murdock said.

“This is something that’s badly needed, especially as we plan out our concept to work, live and play in the same place. These complete kinds of communities are what we’re looking for to encourage folks to settle in,” he said.

Brice suggested that both child and adult daycares become de facto permitted uses in these mixed-use centres that include housing and workplaces. “These are what families need.”

Standing up for farmland

Saanich Council Demonstrates ‘Smart Growth’
A. Furtado, Saanich Voice Online

For the third time since Saanich adopted their Official Community Plan, Saanich Council rejected rezoning applications from developers that wanted to sacrifice potential farmland for short term profits. The most recent application was defeated unanimously, effectively putting an end to the developer’s plan to construct 16 homes on land currently located in the Agricultural Land Reserve. “As our population grows, there is an increased demand for development and pressure to encroach upon agricultural land,” states Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock. “Developing agricultural land to accommodate growth is killing the goose for its golden egg. It compromises our food security and makes a mockery of our land-use plans, while contributing to car-dependent sprawl.”

Councillor Murdock continues “Agricultural land is too important to carve up into parcels for urbanization…Instead of paving our farmland for housing to generate real estate income, we should be looking for more ways to support our local farmers by keeping farming profitable.” With dramatic increases in fuel and food costs, residents are realizing that having local food readily available is no longer optional, but is becoming a necessity. According to Councillor Murdock rising food costs are making it more expensive to put meals on the table “…ensuring we have quality, affordable food supports our farmers, our health and our environment too with a smaller carbon footprint.” The Capital Regional District is also in agreement, as they transition to what is called a “Regional Sustainability Strategy” to promote food security within the region. A CRD memorandum states, “There is a greater need and desire for accessing local food sources to promote well being and to connect with the land. Traditional production and agriculture systems are failing on many fronts, including loss or fragmentation of productive agricultural land.”

This measured approach from Saanich Council to protect agricultural land, comes in stark contrast to neighbouring municipality Central Saanich, where the current council’s attitude towards development is quite different. In addition to re-designating ALR land for the approx. 50-home Vantreight subdivision, Central Saanich is currently fast tracking approval for the Co-Op to build a large scale shopping center on rural land, as well as approving numerous building applications where lots are being divided into parcels as little as 30 feet in width. This may seem ironic, when considering 60 years ago Central Saanich separated from Saanich primarily to protect its land from urbanization.

In Central Saanich, the future of rural land was discussed at the March 30th 2011 Advisory Planning Commission Special Meeting, where fears of “densification” repeatedly arose throughout the evening. A number of concerned residents in attendance spoke out requesting that Council must create guidelines regarding densification that also support the Official Community Plan, before more applications for subdivisions are approved. Resident David Wilson said that Central Saanich infrastructure is over 40 years old and is “insufficient” to support the strain that council is imposing with increased densification. Wilson also noted that development in Central Saanich appears to be “unrestricted” and the community is upset with the lack of consistency and rules surrounding development applications.

Central Saanich Councillor John Garrison was asked for his view on densification. “Any time you put anything down, people regard it as densification…council has approved funding for creating guidelines for densification and to get public input starting in September.” However, according to Garrison, Council has no plans to change how they process development applications while they await these guidelines. Central Saanich Councillor Terry Siklenka, Director on the Council of Construction Associations and a former Director on the Vancouver Island Construction Association, was asked how he felt densification could help Central Saanich. No reply was received.

This Fall there will be a municipal election critical to the future of Central Saanich. The new, incoming council will be reviewing the Official Community Plan, which designates how much farmland Central Saanich will have and where that farmland will be located within the municipality. The ramifications of this review could change the landscape of Central Saanich forever. According to Councillor Murdock, “Protecting and enhancing local food production starts with saving agricultural land and maintaining our community’s urban containment boundaries…doing so will protect our quality of life, food security, our health and our climate for now and for future generations.”

Building complete communities includes places for kids to play

Daycare above pub supported for Shelbourne development
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

A new daycare centre is planned for a yet-to-be-built four-storey project behind Tuscany Village.

Saanich council agreed to rezone the property, at 3959 Shelbourne St., to include one-and-a-half floors of daycare, a rooftop play area, office space and a restaurant-style pub downstairs.

“When you look at all of the acres of rooftop we have in Saanich and this region, this is, I think, a clever solution to providing more outdoor space for a childcare centre,” Coun. Dean Murdock said.

A project like this will help Saanich move toward its goal of major urban centres along Shelbourne, he added.

“This will be a place where parents can drop their kids off so they can work in the community and have their kids in the community,” Murdock said.

Council is asking for a covenant on when the rooftop play area can be used, so as to not disturb neighbouring residents.

The proposal still needs to go to a public hearing to allow neighbours to provide input.

A community destination for Gordon Head

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.

New Kirby’s plan includes unique community feature

Kirby’s plan to add sport court helps council agree to expansion
Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

A unique design feature for a proposed sports equipment store in Saanich caught councillors’ attention Monday night.

A sports court – for basketball or small games of hockey – is planned for the front yard of the new Kirby’s Source for Sports. Council gave near unanimous support to the plans for the court and the larger store, to front onto Seymour Street instead of its current Cloverdale Avenue.

“I like that they’re taking advantage of the nature of the business by promoting athletic activity on the site itself,” said Coun. Dean Murdock.

The court will measure about 10 metres by 15 metres, with a three-metre-high chain link fence surrounding it.

“This community’s undergoing some changes, so it’ll be nice for the community (members) to see it change and see how it’s going to be,” Coun. Wayne Hunter said. He referred to a recently approved development up the street on the former eyesore corner of Cloverdale and Inverness Road.

But Coun. Vicki Sanders, former president of the Quadra-Cedar Hill Community Association, wasn’t fond of the court.

“It reminds me of a parking compound with a high fence,” she said. “It’s not the vision I wanted to see (in this neighbourhood). It’s unique alright, but not a unique I like.”

Store owner Kirby Yeats said the landscaping on site should provide enough of a barrier for people who aren’t keen on the fence.

“People shouldn’t be strictly looking at the fence. They should be looking at the facility itself – the building and the sport court and the atmosphere it brings to the neighbourhood,” he said.

Councillors shared the sentiment, saying it will promote physical activity and could provide local teams and athletes with a small practice facility.

Yeats first went to council in December, but his proposal was postponed over concerns from councillors regarding impervious surfaces and less-than-ideal landscaping.

The new store will be built behind the existing one. The old building will be deconstructed to make way for the sport court and front-of-store parking.

Yeats hopes to have the new store open by the end of the year.

Councillors approved the application 7-1, with Sanders opposed. Coun. Leif Wergeland was absent from the meeting.

Setting a green standard

Saanich must raise green standards, councillor says
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

Saanich is raising its expectations.

As sustainability features become standard when proposed residential and commercial buildings come to council for approval, one councillor is looking to ensure that all green options are considered.

Coun. Dean Murdock wants staff to set environmental standards for developers so bargaining for green features doesn’t take place at the council table.

“We’re moving to a point where there’s an expectation on council that you’re going to build to at least a gold or silver LEED standard,” he said. “Things have shifted quite dramatically in the last five years. There are so many different options (available) to achieve LEED or build green.”
Those options include anything from the type of building material used to how the rooms are heated.

“I’ve asked staff to look back to see: this is what we were looking for (five years ago), this is what we’re looking for now.”
Murdock wants to take an inventory of what developers have already done – from the use of solar hot water to the integration of rain gardens – to give council more clout during sustainability discussions.

“If someone comes to the mic and says: ‘That’s not functional’ or ‘It’s too expensive,’ we can point to examples and say: ‘This is where that was implemented. See how they made it work?’”

Murdock acknowledges that building green can be achieved in a variety of ways and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
This way, however, council will be able to set the bar for, at the very least, basic requirements that will give some assurances before anything is approved.

A welcome change at Cloverdale and Inverness

Derelict buildings torn down after decade as Saanich eyesores
Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

“Hallelujah!” That was Don Cottrell’s excited reaction first thing Monday morning when an excavator tore through one of four derelict homes that neighbour his condo.

Cottrell lives just steps from the corner of Cloverdale Avenue and Inverness Road where, for almost a decade, neighbours and council have been working to get the eyesores torn down.

“We’re thrilled to see them go,” Cottrell said.

The properties have been boarded up for more than a year, but had previously been problematic for police and bylaw officers attending periodically for squatters, trespassing and vandalism. Neighbours say crime and drug problems persisted for a couple years before the homes were vacated.

Coun. Dean Murdock said he can understand why area residents are glad to see the “poorly maintained, condemned, uninhabitable homes” gone.

“This is the end of a chapter that has been going on for a better part of a decade. It was a chapter where there was a considerable amount of frustration and consternation about the appearance of these houses,” he said.

Quadra-Cedar Hill Neighbourhood Association president Karen Dearborn said the change is welcome.

“It’s kind of like the first sign that the neighbourhood’s being transformed,” Dearborn said. “I had so many people ask me: ‘When are they going to come down? How do we hold Saanich’s feet to the fire to make sure they come down?’ There’s a lot of emotion in the neighbourhood surrounding these homes.”

In August, council set a deadline for the property owners, who are looking to build a new condo building on the corner, to have all the homes torn down by August.

Councillors at the time voiced their frustrations with how long the homes have been problematic for them.

“This has been a black cloud for council for quite some time,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders, who served as president of the community association from 2000 to 2005.

“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 of The Rutledge complex. It will feature 42 units and a coffee shop.

“It will raise our spirits about the future of the corner, that’s for sure,” Cottrell said. “It’s going to be a much better gateway to the park, and a gateway to the whole community than what’s been there for years. It’s good news for everyone.”