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Plan for six-lot subdivision along Lochside Trail gets green light

Saanich council voted 7-2 to approve a rezoning application to allow six single-family homes at 4590 Lochside Dr., currently the site of a single 1956 home.
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A dog walker on the Lochside Trail passes 4590 Lochside Dr., which will be redeveloped as a subdivision with six single-family homes. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A key corner lot along Lochside Trail will be redeveloped as a six-unit subdivision, despite concerns it poses a threat to the rural nature of the Blenkinsop Valley and would add to existing traffic problems. 

Council voted 7-2 to approve a rezoning application to allow six single-family homes at 4590 Lochside Dr., currently the site of a single 1956 house. 

“This is a reasonable, moderate compromise from what was initially devised,” said Coun. Colin Plant, noting 12 single-family homes were pitched for the site several years ago. 

“Any sort of development in this site is likely going to have some concerns from the public, and I share their concern.” 

But Plant said district staff have said there will be safeguards for the Lochside Trail during construction and to ensure it does not spell the end of the agricultural Blenkinsop Valley. 

The lot in question is inside the urban containment boundary, while adjacent properties are not, said Plant, adding he has always strongly supported the preservation of the urban containment boundary. “I cannot imagine this being the first in a series of dominoes that would see the valley become more developed.” 

The site is being rezoned from its existing A-1 Rural designation to a RS-10 residential zone to accommodate single-family homes. To the west of the site there are single-family homes in the Broadmead subdivision, while a three-hectare rural property borders it to the south. 

Mayor Dean Murdock said the site should be considered part of Broadmead and the homes being considered are in keeping with the style of the area. 

Murdock said the fact the subdivision has been scaled down to six homes from 12 helped get the community associations on side with it. “I think that the proponent put forward something that is probably largely what residents in the area would’ve expected to find in the neighbourhood.” 

Coun. Nathalie Chambers, who voted against the proposal, said she couldn’t believe it was back in front of council. 

“This was rejected three times,” she said. “How far are we going to go? How many trees are we going to take down? How much development are we going to do? As a farmer, this is the last protected gate to the Agricultural Land Reserve that doesn’t have road entrance.” 

A staff report that recommended approving the revised proposal noted the subdivision is consistent with the official community plan, which contemplates limited infill in neighbourhoods inside the urban containment boundary. The report noted that it was in line with the Blenkinsop Valley local area plan, which anticipates infill development on the parcel. 

The proposal includes establishing a separated sidewalk on Lochside Drive between the development and Royal Oak Drive, replanting trees to re-create the tree canopy, and adding $30,000 to the affordable housing fund. Each home would come with a secondary suite and four parking spaces will be provided for each lot. 

While there won’t be a public hearing for the project, the public will have another chance to weigh in on it when it comes back to council for three readings of the rezoning bylaw. 

aduffy@timescolonist.com