Artist’s rendering shows the development approved by Esquimalt council for 615 Fernhill Rd., after a public hearing on Monday. Nearby neighbours of the site voiced concerns over the scarcity of street parking in the block and potential for increased traffic. Courtesy Township of Esquimalt

Esquimalt council approves multi-unit residential project on Fernhill Road

Neighbours concerned over parking, traffic, but council greenlights low-rise building

Esquimalt council voted Monday to rezone a property at 615 Fernhill Rd., where the owner plans to remove a single-family home and build a low-rise, 10-unit residential building.

In a presentation during a public hearing on the application, Township planning technician Alex Tang noted there were similar structures in the neighbourhood – three and four-storey apartment buildings. Given the current density on the street, some residents worried about the potential parking and traffic issues.

Don Hamilton, who resides at 636 Fernhill Rd., pointed out that Fernhill Road was initially built to serve single-family homes.

Next-door neighbour Lynne Masse-Danes, who has lived on Fernhill 20 years, also worried about traffic and parking, noting, “There is absolutely never a spare spot, because you’ve got four apartment complexes right there.”

Coun. Tim Morrison pointed out that extra residents wouldn’t necessarily translate to an increase in the need for street parking.

“People are just not going to spend their life savings on a condo where they can’t park their vehicles (on site); they’re not going to rely on street parking,” he said, adding many families can only afford one vehicle today.

The design calls for 10 resident spaces and two visitor spots below grade.

Misha Wilkin, the owner of the property in question, said the target market for the new development is varied: “Whether it’s first-time home buyers, empty nesters, retirees and families as well, it suits all those different needs.

“It creates affordable housing through density,” he added.

Council was pleased with the varied design of the units: two townhomes, six one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units; as well as consideration during the construction phase for accommodating residents interested in aging in place.

Coun. Beth Burton-Krahn, the lone holdout in the 5-1 vote, said if Esquimalt is going to increase density, a proactive plan must be in place, one that works interconnectively with the community.

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