Having approved two new multi-family projects for the site of the former Marigold Nursery, the mayor of Central Saanich hopes the increased density in the neighbourhood spurs development of commercial projects and services.
Mayor Ryan Windsor said he has asked about the possibility of at least a small grocery store since the early days of the Marigold project.
“There’s certainly potential,” said Windsor, noting the new developments should make it easier to establish a business case for some commercial or mixed-use projects. “But that’s on the businesses to say: ‘Yeah, this could work.’ ”
Windsor said residents in the area of Lochside Drive and Mount Newton Cross Road have to drive into Sidney or further afield to find groceries and other services.
Last week, Central Saanich council approved the next two phases of the Marigold lands development – a 235-unit rental complex as well as a six-storey condo building with 50 units and 14 neighbouring townhouses.
Windsor said there are still pockets of land in that part of the district and older buildings already zoned for commercial use that could be ripe for redevelopment as mixed-use projects.
“There’s probably more of a business case now, which actually helps the existing residents,” he said.
Construction could start as early as April at the former nursery site after council voted to greenlight a large rental housing project on Hackett Crescent, off Lochside Drive.
The project, which includes 235 rental units spread across two six-storey buildings, would meet 42 per cent of the district’s rental housing needs, according to Starlight, the developer.
“We appreciate the leadership shown by the District of Central Saanich in unanimously approving new rental housing,” said Starlight development manager Andrew Browne.
The project will provide eight units of affordable housing and a single level of underground parking. Tenants who do not rent a parking space will be given bus tickets, while Starlight will buy $5,000 worth of Modo Car Share memberships for tenants as well.
The developer will also provide $15,000 in pedestrian improvements in the area and include a pedestrian right-of-way to a neighbouring property.
In voting for the project, Coun. Carl Jensen said the housing supply in the district has not kept up with demand for both purchase and rental units. It’s important for people who want to live in the district to have options, he said.
Jensen said it was also about supporting local businesses who have been asking for housing for employees who have struggled to find housing anywhere in the district.
Windsor noted that between 1977 and 2013 no rental projects had been built in Central Saanich and what rental stock is in the area is aging.
Browne said construction is expected to take two years.
“This property offers the opportunity to live next to the Lochside Trail and has great amenities including electric vehicle and e-bike chargers, common roof-top decks, gym, lounge, and courtyard. All units are pet-friendly, and the project includes an on-site dog run,” he said.
Critics, many of them residents living near the project, raised concerns about the size of the buildings, the switch in plans for the site from condominiums to rentals, as well as traffic and parking issues given the number of units.
The rental project is the second phase of development on the Marigold lands, which had been home to a nursery for 53 years.
The first phase was a 38-unit condominium building that started coming out of the ground in 2017.