Caddy Bay residents voice concern over UVic’s plans for the Queenswood

Cadboro Bay residents are rallying together to voice concerns about the future zoning of land that has housed the Queenswood retreat.

On Feb. 8, the land’s new owners, the University of Victoria, hosted the second of two open houses. About 200 residents attended, many questioning what use restrictions would be put on the six-hectare-parcel (14 acres) at Arbutus Road and Queenswood Drive. Topping the list of concerns is a proposed 30-metre, or six storey, height limit on buildings.

“What they proposed was clearly not respectful in any way of the comments they received from the residents,” Queenswood resident Barbara Raponi said. “We’ve got to start getting on this right now. I think that everybody was quite taken aback at the meeting.”

Raponi was among 70 residents who then met with the Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association board last Monday to discuss zoning concerns at what was the most highly attended regular board meeting on record.

“It shows the depth of concern in the community,” said association president Rick Page who helped draft a letter to UVic and Saanich council, asking for another open house and more consideration of their concerns.

“If we’re not happy, it’s not likely they’re going to be successful at Saanich council either,” Page added. “So it’s in UVic’s best interest to listen to our concerns.”

UVic director of campus planning and sustainability, Neil Connelly presented the university’s proposed new zone with hopes of submitting a proposal to Saanich sometime next month.

“We’re taking these comments into consideration as part of it and trying to see how we can respond to some of the issues and basically provide for the university’s use of the property,” Connelly said.

As for student housing, it remains a high priority for the school, but one that UVic is open to discussing.

“There’s probably additional work we can do relative to what kind of student housing, or indicating it’s not an undergraduate dorm for student housing, but there could be options relating to shorter term housing or family housing,” he said.

The Queenswood property is within walking distance of the university and includes a retreat, a single residential dwelling and a care facility, currently zoned for personal care use.

UVic purchased Queenswood from the Sisters of St. Ann in March. Under an agreement made with UVic in March, the not-for-profit group retained use of the retreat centre until Jan. 1 of this year, as well as the option of operating the residence until January 2013.

No date has been set for future public consultation.

nnorth@saanichnews.com