Another former Traveller’s Inn could be transformed into small, affordable housing units.
Victoria’s planning and land used committee has recommended a proposal to redevelop a former 27-room Traveller’s Inn motel at 626 Gorge Rd. East go to public hearing.
The development, proposed by Mike Forbes, would see 23 residential units — ranging from 240 to 461 square feet — and 1,657 square feet of retail space.
City planning staff had recommended against the proposal, saying it was not consistent with the Official Community Plan, which envisions uses such as commercial, office retail or light industrial on the site.
The staff report also noted that the application didn’t meet or only partially met a number of the city’s conversion guideline criteria.
Those concerns include parking (only 13 stalls are provided, 20 short of normal requirement); unit size (only five of the 23 units meet the minimum requirement of 355 square feet); lack of green space or a children’s play area and lack of patio or balcony space (a small rooftop deck is included); no provision for in-suite storage and no storage lockers are shown in plans; and no in-suite laundry (although there is a common laundry).
Ultimately, the committee recommended sending the proposal to public hearing on the condition that, should a rezoning be granted, it would be tied only to this development proposal to sustain the life of this building.
In effect, the move would be an interim zoning to extend the building’s lifespan. Any subsequent development application would use the existing transient zone as the starting point for discussion.
Coun. Lisa Helps said the Official Community Plan identifies the type of development council hopes to see in the area over the next 20 years. At some point, the land will likely lend itself to a different type of development.
But, meanwhile, she said, the proposal would provide needed affordable housing. “All we can look at is what’s in front of us right now.”
The main consideration had to be land use, said Coun. Pam Madoff, who was initially reluctant to support the proposal but then said she would be willing to consider it as a transitional land use.
“My main concern is related to the long-term land use of the site,” Madoff said.
“I believe for this part of Gorge Road, in particular, having that mix of having either retail or commercial on the main floor of a development with residential above would be the most desirable way to go.”
Helps noted that council approved the conversion of a city-owned former Traveller’s Inn into affordable housing, with many of the same issues raised in the staff report.
“I would say that when we reviewed the application for Queens Manor, we made some of the same exceptions,” Helps said. “I don’t know that there’s in-suite laundry at Queens Manor; I don’t know that there’s beautiful landscape places at Queens Manor.
“I think this is a good proposal and, as I said, would support it going to public hearing to see what the public thinks.”