Editorial: Citta brings community into project

Company shows community leadership on 'infill' project

As Oak Bay wrestles with the question of infill – including how much, where, and what it should look like –  the developer of one local project has demonstrated how a willingness to work with the community can create a project that is welcomed by most in the neighbourhood.

Oak Bay is not alone in addressing the question of infill – creating additional properties or space for new residents within an established neighbourhood.

Here in town, Victoria and Saanich have also worked at finding ways to accommodate the new people who want to live within their older neighbourhoods, where undeveloped land is hard to come by.

This kind of development has the potential to raise concerns among neighbours for a wide variety of reasons.

New properties can bring concerns over parking and traffic, for example, while some worry for the changing character of a community or loss of trees. Others worry about the tax and infrastructure implications of infill developments for the greater community.

Citta Developments’ proposal to turn the Masonic hall on Yale Street into three single-family lots, which requires an official community plan land use amendment and a rezoning, received considerable support last week from neighbours.

Those who propose such projects are wise to engage the neighbourhood and take into consideration local concerns. A previous proposal by a different developer for townhouses on the site was not well received.

Citta’s Bill Patterson suggested his proposal was an “innovative infill project,” the right proposal for the property, but it was the local residents who sung the project’s praises. In this case, residents appreciated Citta’s effort to create a project in keeping with the community, willingness to rebuild a local playground and efforts to site the homes specifically to retain, where possible, existing healthy Garry oaks.

“I think he’s going above and beyond and really doing everything to reassure people on the street,” said Teresa Slik.

A good lesson for others looking to bring forward their vision for Oak Bay.