A narrow majority of Oak Bay’s municipal council feels a proposed four-storey, mixed-use building at the corner of Bowker Road and Cadboro Bay Road is ready to head for public hearing.
Abstract Developments proposes to redevelop a handful of properties that currently hold three single-family homes, a duplex, and a commercial building. Discussion during Monday’s committee meeting, heavily attended by the public, varied as vastly as the previous handful of council and committee meetings with council and residents speaking heartily in favour and opposed.
With Couns. Kevin Murdoch and Tom Croft away for the meeting the vote remained a split familiar from previous discussions about the proposed Bowker building – with Mayor Nils Jensen and councillors Tara Ney and Michelle Kirby voting to move the project forward while Couns. Hazel Braithwaite and Eric Zhelka opposed.
The proposal is slated to head to council Monday night for potential first and second readings which, if passed, would mean setting a public hearing date for the proposal.
While letters to council weighed heavily in favour of the proposal, the room of residents in attendance remains split.
“I believe it will give people who want to downsize in our community a place to go to,” said resident Rick Gonder, adding it would revitalize the corner and bring amenities to the neighbourhood.
The proposal includes commercial space on the ground floor facing Cadboro Bay Road and residential on Bowker Avenue with a courtyard garden in the central area of the pie-shaped property. It has about 70 per cent lot coverage without counting the interior landscaped garden, which does count in floor area coverage calculations.
Lot coverage, massing appearance, traffic and parking continue to be concerns from the public and some of council.
“It’s that overhang, it’s not Oak Bay to me,” said Zhelka, among other concerns.
“I’m not pleased with the size and the massing as you know,” said Braithwaite, adding the proposed building is three times the size of a proposal turned down by the previous council for Oak Bay Lodge. “There’s a lot of things about this I love there’s a lot about it I don’t.”
Braithwaite addressed the traffic concerns with the adjacent intersection, identified early as an issue among residents. Abstract proposes to fund $100,000 toward safety alterations.
“If there’s a problem with that intersection we need to fix it,” Braithwaite said, adding that’s not up to a developer. “We should be fixing it.”
Council recommended council approve first two readings of the required bylaw and set a public hearing for the rezoning. Bylaws are expected on the council agenda Monday, March 27 at 7 p.m.
Find the agenda or watch the meeting online at oakbay.ca.