The Loblaws-owned vacant lot, a once-proposed Great Canadian Superstore, reminds passersby of the former Mayfair Lanes bowling alley in the heart of Saanich’s thriving commercial and retail district next to Mayfair Shopping Centre and Island Home Centre. File photo

Why are these Saanich lots still sitting vacant?

Mayfair Lanes lot still empty, 12 years later

Construction is booming in Greater Victoria with some of the region’s biggest developments back on track after the 2009 recession slowed things down.

The five-stage Travino in Royal Oak is nearly complete, the third tower at 20-acre Bayview Place, Encore, was sold out in 2018 and the next tower, a seniors residence, is now on the way. Hammers are swinging at Dockside Green (not to overlook the new Johnson Street bridge) and work began this month on the 25-storey Hudson Place One tower that will stand over Herald Street. And speaking of the Johnson Street bridge, the Janion’s Airbnb guests will have the best view around for the bridge’s March 31 inauguration.

Same goes in Saanich, where the eight-storey, 39-unit Lyra and 53-unit Otto condos are well on their way to be completed in 2018, opposite each other on McKenzie Avenue at Christmas Hill. And yet, despite all the forward momentum a group of the region’s most anticipated developments continue to stand out as delayed.

Aragon’s Trio project in Cordova Bay

With the recent neighbourhood outcry over residential Cordova Bay projects, Vancouver-based developer Aragon can expect a testy response when it eventually brings its latest proposal for the 385-unit condo project to the community. Then again, Saanich council approved the new three-building Cordova Bay Plaza replacement in spite of a vocal community backlash.

Currently, the old Trio gravel site is assessed at more than $9 million. Aragon initially proposed a development in 2015 with more than 400 suites but scaled it back to 385 due to public pressure. Aragon spokesperson Luke Ramsay said this month that enviromental assessments are still ongoing and that he hopes to bring a newly revised draft plan to the community soon.

In the meantime, Cordova Bay residents are awaiting the return of the four-storey Doumac Avenue condo proposal to Saanich council. The project at 986 and 990 Doumac was rejected by council in October. It is directly across the street from the newly approved four-storey Cordova Bay plaza replacement.

Royal Oak Golf Course

Two former golf courses are in limbo at the moment as Glen Meadows in North Saanich was reportedly sold in December. However, despite an uncertain future and a past that includes a foiled 2014 attempt to rezone and develop Glen Meadows as both residential and parkland, the golf course continues to operate.

Not so for Royal Oak Golf Course. The once-popular course is nestled between the Pat Bay Highway and Beaver Lake Park and is lined with homes. The course closed for business in 2016, a casualty of the sport’s decline in popularity.

In 2017 a group of three parties purchased the overgrown, derelict Royal Oak Golf Course land for $3.5 million. Like Glen Meadows, most of the Royal Oak Golf Course property falls in the Agricultural Land Reserve. There are some who doubt that the ALC, which is under new pressures to protect potentially productive lands, will release the former golf course from its ALR designation.

Neighbours have been approached through a couple of town hall meetings about the future of the land, though no plans have been publically announced as of yet.

Loblaw’s vacant lot at Mayfair Lanes

Built in 1963 and torn down prematurely in 2006 by Loblaw Companies, the 10-pin Mayfair Lanes bowling alley was a popular venue. Right to the end it hosted leagues, and every week teens and young adults would visit for the glow-in-the-dark, Wednesday night rock and bowl.

Loblaw’s last submitted a plan to Saanich in 2010 to redevelop the 13,670 square-metre lot at 760 Tolmie Ave. with a Real Canadian Superstore. Loblaw purchased the property in 2005.

Despite its prime location the application has been on hold and the lot has sat empty ever since.

Originally, some speculated it would be a Walmart. A new Walmart, however, reopened at the 2010-built Uptown. Then in 2016 Uptown added a Whole Foods. All this is just two blocks up Oak Street from the vacant Mayfair Lanes lot.

 

The Aragon Properties-owned Trio gravel site on Cordova Bay Road is looking to add 25,000 cubic metres of fill to help level the land for the proposed 385-unit development. Google Street View

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