A six-storey apartment building proposed for Raymond Street South in Saanich was rejected by council in a close vote.
On March 22, council debated the merits of a 59-unit housing development planned for 3656 Raymond St. South before voting 5-4 to reject the application. Couns. Rebecca Mersereau, Ned Taylor, Zac de Vries and Karen Harper were opposed.
Abstract Developments bought the property in 2016 and, in order to build the desired six-storey building, later applied to rezone the property to RA-11 (apartment) Zone from P-1 (public assembly) Zone. The proposal came to council twice in 2020 before being sent to public hearing on March 16.
“The main reason I am unable to support (the development) is because of community fit,” said Coun. Colin Plant. He noted that the application was worth considering, but he was concerned when the Mount View Colquitz Community Association and numerous residents voiced opposition.
A total of 61 speakers weighed in at the public hearing. Opponents raised concerns about the loss of public assembly zoning and the existing daycare, among other issues, while supporters noted the development would bring community benefits and increased density to an appropriate area.
In Plant’s view, the benefits and amenities didn’t outweigh the concerns, but others disagreed.
“If not here, then where?” Mersereau asked, noting the location suited increased density and would allow residents to bike or bus where they needed to go.
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said the decision was tough, adding that this was “the perfect building in the wrong location.” While council is working to bring more housing to the region, the neighbourhood opposition was too great to approve this proposal, he said, noting he’s hopeful Abstract will bring forward a new proposal.
Mike Miller, CEO and founder of Abstract, said his team was disappointed but acknowledged that “rezoning is a privilege, not a right.” He remains optimistic that a reconfigured plan can be brought to council but couldn’t speculate what that may look like – though he said it’s unlikely his team will completely start over as the rejected application was three years in the making.
Scott Laming, a Raymond Street resident who opposed the rezoning, said many neighbours were pleased to see the project rejected as it wasn’t welcomed in its current form.
He hopes residents will be able to contribute to “a solution that is satisfactory for the needs of the neighbourhood, (Saanich) and the developer.”