What is described as a minor housekeeping change to the zoning at Colwood’s upcoming Royal Beach subdivision sparked a flurry of passionate objections from the community, yet was ultimately approved by council.
Council approved a zoning amendment by a vote of 4-3 at its regular Sept. 26 meeting, which made small changes to the planned road layout in the development near Royal Bay that developer partnership Seacliff Properties and Reliance Properties said would improve traffic safety. Couns. Doug Kobayashi, Cynthia Day, and Stewart Parkinson opposed the amendment.
Coun. Michael Baxter made a motion to direct staff to prepare a report for council exploring the possible options to control the location of any building over four storeys which may be built in development area six of the Royal Beach property, which was one of the most common concerns raised by members of the community during a Sept. 22 public hearing on the proposed rezoning. Baxter’s motion passed unanimously.
Monday’s adoption vote followed a passionate public hearing where all speakers voiced their opposition to the proposed changes, though few of the specific concerns raised that night were within the scope of the actual bylaw changes council would vote on.
John English, president of the Royal Bay Homeowners Association, was among the loudest voices in the room, and focused much of his concerns on the ethics and conduct of council with regard to developments in the city, especially those involving Seacliff. English in particular called on Coun. Dean Jantzen to recuse himself from all votes related to Seacliff, as Elections B.C. records indicate he accepted $200 from Georgia Desjardins, Seacliff’s director of development, in his 2018 election campaign.
Jantzen responded to that demand ahead of council’s vote, saying he would not recuse himself from the vote as he feels doing so would be “abdicating from his responsibilities to the community,” and the contribution was such a small amount of money it would not be able to impact his decisions being made based on what he feels is in the community’s best interest. Other concerns raised by multiple residents during the public hearing included that the location of a 12-storey residential building would block the ocean views of current residents in the area, general concerns about there being too much density on the West Shore, especially in the Royal Bay and Royal Beach areas, safety risks which may come from increased traffic once people move into the development, and the fact council was making such a decision so close to the municipal election, rather than deferring the decision until after the new council has been elected.
In response to some of those concerns, both council members and city staff highlighted the fact nothing in the bylaw being voted on had any impact on where the building would be located within zone 6 of the property, and previous council approvals in 2020 had already allowed the building to be placed anywhere in that zone.