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Christie Point rental concessions inadequate: tenants

The group representing tenants in the 161-unit Christie Point Apartments says the latest offer from would-be developer RealStar Group falls short.
Judith Newnham, of the Christie Point Advocates Group, walks with her Shetland sheepdog, Bo, near her apartment block, one of nine two-storey buildings on the narrow peninsula in View Royal.

The group representing tenants in the 161-unit Christie Point Apartments says the latest offer from would-be developer RealStar Group falls short.

Toronto-based RealStar has offered to keep the rent the same for tenants who have lived at the Portage Inlet complex for at least 10 years, but that would cover only 21 per cent of the tenants, said Judith Newnham of the Christie Point Advocates Group.

She said she met with RealStar vice-president Heather Grey-Wolf on Monday, hoping the company would agree to grandfather all tenants at the rent they currently pay in the 1960s-era complex, if View Royal council approves the $200-million proposal for 473 new units spread mostly over six-storey buildings.

The new complex would take several years to construct if zoning changes are approved by the municipality — amendments that will not happen at tonight’s public hearing at the Songhees Wellness Centre. “My expectation, although I’m not positive, is that it will come back to council at its July 4 meeting,” Mayor David Screech said.

The tenant-compensation package is the most generous he has heard of — “I can’t imagine any future offer being any better,” Screech said Monday.

Tenants worry about finding new rental apartments in a tight market. “Emotions are running high,” Newnham said.

The meeting was moved from View Royal council chambers to accommodate what is expected to be a large crowd.

Opponents say the proposal is too dense, too tall and too intrusive for the sensitive environment of the kilometre-long peninsula that has been a federal bird sanctuary since 1923.

The proposal has been approved by two View Royal community advisory committees and recommended by its planning department.

The development would add 312 purpose-built rental units to the town. If accepted, Realstar’s tenant package would include:

• one month of rent in compensation for tenants of up to five years.

• two months of rent for tenancies of five to nine years.

• three months of rent for tenants who have been there 10 to 19 years.

• four months of rent for those who have lived on Christie Point for more than 20 years.

Realstar would also offer 12 months’ notice, a moving allowance of $1,000 or services through a company contracted by Realstar, packing for those with physical disabilities, and foot the bill for connection of utilities and the forwarding of mail for 12 months.

Newnham said a tenant relations officer to help with finding accommodations was requested but turned down by Realstar.

The proposal would replace the two-storey buildings that make up Christie Point Apartments.