Things are looking up in Esquimalt — 12 storeys up — and it’s a good direction to go. Early in the New Year, a proposal will be brought before Esquimalt council for a 12-storey independent-living facility on Admirals Road for veterans and other seniors.
The West Victoria Seniors Independent Living and Legion Project is a joint venture between Monimos Equities and Developments and the Esquimalt branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. It would include 12 senior housing units for veterans managed by the legion and 140 independent-apartments, as well as a new legion facility and 1,200 square feet of commercial space.
The basic concept is not new. The legion has been working on a plan for its property for more than five years. In 2008, a proposal for a 17-storey project — Esquimalt Legion Towers — was brought before council after being scaled back from 20 storeys.
The project created a division in the community, with one of the main concerns being the height of the complex. The project faded away after council decided to hold the application in abeyance pending a review of Esquimalt’s official community plan and limits on heights and population densities.
That review, however, resulted in increasing the height restriction to 12 from 10 storeys. The latest incarnation of the project conforms to that limit.
This time, height should not be a concern. No one wants massive cliffs of high-rise condo complexes like you see in parts of Burnaby or Vancouver’s West End, but if growth does not go up, it goes out. We cannot afford to let urban sprawl go unchecked.
This isn’t an issue peculiar to Esquimalt; it applies to the whole region. Allowing taller buildings and higher densities in specific areas will preserve the natural landscapes and park space that mean so much to the quality of life in Greater Victoria.
The project will help revitalize downtown Esquimalt. Its location is within easy walking distance of Esquimalt Plaza and other amenities. It is relatively convenient to Victoria General Hospital, downtown Victoria, parks, the ocean and transportation routes.
It offers an opportunity for Esquimalt residents to stay within their own area as they retire, and will attract other seniors who value a sense of community.
Esquimalt sometimes gets poor-cousin treatment in its proximity to Victoria, but it is a colourful, attractive community, loaded with heritage, ideal for people of all ages.
We suggest the developers make every effort to harmonize design with the township’s character. (We’re also hopeful that West Victoria Seniors Independent Living and Legion Project is a working title, and a more interesting name will have been found by the time the ribbon is cut.)
The project would make good use of the legion property and would help the organization. which is struggling as membership declines.
No project is without its challenges, and community preferences need to be considered, but this project would be an asset to Esquimalt as well as to its neighbours.
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