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Saanich approves another townhouse project near Swan Lake

The 26-unit townhouse project, which will replace a single-family home on Rainbow Street, is the third multi-family project approved in the last year

Despite concerns about the amount of development planned for the Swan Lake area, Saanich council has moved forward a 26-unit townhouse project that will replace a single-family home.

Council on Monday night unanimously approved a rezoning and development permit application from Abstract Developments for the project at 4011 Rainbow St.

Mayor Dean Murdock noted the area is earmarked in the official community plan as a spot for more homes within walking distance of schools, parks, shopping, public transit, and active transportation infrastructure.

“And what this application represents is 26 family-suitable homes. We think this is an ideal location to create homes for them to live in.”

Approval of the 26-unit project comes less than a year after council green-lit a seven-storey mixed-use building with 106 residential units in the 800-block of McKenzie Avenue, right around the corner.

Last spring, council gave the nod to another 25-unit townhouse project at the northeast corner of Rainbow Street and Sevenoaks Road.

Jonathan Mark, president of the Rainbow Hill townhomes strata council, told council that together, the projects represent a significant increase in congestion, and a safety risk.

Coun. Karen Harper said it’s up to the municipality to consider the broader impact of the developments, and district staff have not seen the need to augment existing traffic safety measures in the area.

Harper said she supported the project because it’s the right kind of housing in a transit-oriented area.

Coun. Nathalie Chambers, who said she grew up in the area, said she appreciated Abstract Developments’ efforts to protect trees.

“I’m sad about the tree loss, but I have to support this application tonight because I think you’ve tried really, really hard to retain a lot of trees.”

Chambers also suggested that if the project was rejected, council could be facing something “far worse.”

Adam Cooper, Abstract’s director of community planning, said the company worked with Saanich staff to design a project that retains existing mature trees and delivers improved pedestrian infrastructure to the neighbourhood.

“I’m actually very proud to confirm that we are exceeding the goal of no net canopy loss from the urban forest strategy with a net gain of seven trees,” he said, noting the project prioritized the retention of large Garry oaks.

“We’ve been able to seamlessly integrate our proposed townhome development into the surrounding environment, minimizing tree removals and maximizing opportunities for ecological restoration.”

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