The proposed levelling of an outdated apartment in favour of a much larger rental unit on Oak Bay Avenue at Clive Drive has yet to receive full support. But some residents are changing their minds about allowing a new development into the village.
The Clive, a proposed three-storey, 18-unit building, would replace the two-storey, eight-unit 1940s-era Clive Apartments currently at 2280 Oak Bay Ave. Developer JN Development group has been consulting with area residents online and via community meetings since October – a process which thus far has yielded significant alterations to the first proposed design.
The extra storey would add only about a metre of height over the existing building, by building deep into the site. The process has also seen a shift from the originally proposed 23 units with 13 parking stalls, to the current plan of 19 units and 16 parking stalls.
In terms of streetscape, the design doubles the width of the sidewalk in front of the building and puts power lines underground. Setbacks on the north and south side of the building have been increased since the original proposal.
“There were initial concerns over parking and traffic and the size of the building,” said Gregory Damant, principal architect with designers Cascadia Architects.
“I don’t think we’re at the stage where neighbours would say that all of their concerns have been addressed, but we have made considerable progress in that regard, and I think there’s a pretty high level of mutual understanding between the developer and ourselves as a design team and our neighbours.”
Damant calls the rare rental development in the village one of the few sites in Oak Bay fit for a truly walkable residence.
“If there’s a place to increase density in Oak Bay, it’s right here,” he added.
And while Mayor Nils Jensen believes the project received a favourable hearing from council, the remaining concerns brought forward by staff did stall its approval.
Council had previously followed the recommendations of building and planning director Roy Thomassen and rejected the initial rezoning and development permit application for The Clive, based on its failure to meet the requirements of the official community plan.
Elements he had included in the earlier staff report included the loss of natural landscape (and likely a protected tree, according to the municipal arborist); loss of a sense of openness, a characteristic of residential development in Oak Bay; imposing on adjacent lower-density properties via a rear setback of 1.57 metres and increasing the building height.
The proposal also provided 39 less parking stalls than required by the district’s parking facilities bylaw for a building that size.
While the proposal wasn’t approved on May 21, many of those initial concerns have now been addressed. Council did send it back to owner, Nicole Roberts, of JN Development, however, at the request that Roberts meets with the district planner and return with more information, including a detailed landscape and water management plan.
“They want to see a housing agreement bylaw which goes on title and ensures that the project remains rental housing in perpetuity so it won’t be able to be turned into a strata condo – which is not a problem. They want some assurances that it will be built to LEED stands – which is not a problem,” Roberts said. “Basically, they’re looking for ways to ensure that I do what I say I’m going to do.”
At the same meeting, council heard strong support from some of the original opponents of the development, Clive Drive residents Angus and Sandra Matthews. In a co-authored letter, the Matthews lauded the architectural team’s responsiveness to their concerns and supported the latest and future proposals for a variety of reasons, among which, were the need for more rental units in Oak Bay.
“A special development agreement, as required in this application, enables nimble and creative planning while enforcing community expectations,” Matthews wrote. “Exceptions can make communities exceptional.”
Roberts expects to present more information, primarily clarification of landscape and water management at the July 15 committee of the whole meeting.
“The process of Clive residents working together with staff has been working really well,” Jensen said.
*This story has been updated