Queenswood property’s future uncertain

UVic looks to obtain rezoning nonetheless for site

The future of the Queenswood property is one giant question mark.

And that concerns neighbours who say the lack of detailed plans makes a request to rezone the land disconcerting.

The University of Victoria, which owns the six-hectare site on Arbutus Road, purchased the property to expand its academic use as it relates to the school’s mission. However, what that expansion looks like is yet to be seen.

“What we’ve indicated is the property was acquired as a long-term asset to serve the university’s mission. As a result, it’d be premature to outline specific development plans, given they’re not completed at this time,” said Neil Connelly, director of UVic Campus Planning and Sustainability.

Bob Furber, who lives near the property, said neighbours are concerned the the rezoning application will be approved without development plans, which would then allow the university to build without public input – so long as they meet zoning requirements.

“I keep trying to find out what the community thinks, and all evidence points to that the community does not support the current UVic proposal,” he said. “The community would feel much more comfortable if UVic were to submit a concrete proposal outlining what they plan to do, where they want to build buildings, and what it’s going to look like.”

Queenswood is still the home of a care facility, operated by the Sisters of St. Ann. Until last year, it housed a retreat centre.

UVic last week submitted its rezoning application to the District of Saanich, whose staff will spend a couple of months vetting the application before giving their recommendations to council.

“We’ve certainly done what we can to respond to neighbours’ concerns,” Connelly said. The university held two well-attended open houses and recently adjusted its plans so that building heights would be limited to three storeys and a  vegetation buffer of 15 metres would be created to surround the property.

“Everyone’s going to have their own viewpoint relative to how responsive the university should be, right from people who would suggest that the current use on the property was just fine and any change is problematic,” Connelly said.

Adjustments to building heights and a natural buffer don’t go far enough to ease concerns, Furber said.

“It’s going to change the whole character of the area from this very nice, semi-rural, urban forest setting to a potentially very densely developed area with massive amounts of traffic.”

Connelly said a consultant has concluded that tripling the existing floor space on the site – from 63,000 square feet to 191,000 – wouldn’t result in a significant impact on traffic.

He acknowledged the larger figure is arbitrary and future development on the property could potentially exceed 191,000 sq. ft.

“(However) a site-planning exercise that would trigger what future development (might look like) … would be premature right now,” he said.

Connelly said the university will continue to engage with the community as the rezoning application moves forward. Neighbours will have another opportunity to speak to the application when it comes before council.

“I’m hoping that some compromise can be arrived at that is to the liking of the community,” Furber said. “Whether anyone will listen to our concerns or not remains to be seen.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

A bathtub kitchen garden is part of the lineup for this year’s Teeny Tiny Garden Tour to benefit Victoria Hospice. (Screenshot/Teeny Tiny Garden Tour)
Virtual garden tour for Victoria Hospice features trio of back yards

Online tour is free; calendar purchase and donation options raise money for the cause

The Town of Sidney supports efforts to rename Reay Creek to KELSET, its traditional SENCOTEN name. (Black Press Media file photo)
Town of Sidney signs off on Reay Creek name change to KELSET

Name change does not affect surrounding parkland, but public supports doing so

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read