Victoria council has granted a rezoning and development permit that will transform another corner near the city’s downtown.
The vote Thursday approved an application for a 13-storey, 91-unit mixed-use building at the northwest corner of Quadra and Fisgard streets.
The project at 1702 Quadra St. and 862 Fisgard St., which will replace a 15-unit apartment called The Abbey, is another “car-light” project the city has approved with minimal parking spaces despite its density. Four parking stalls are proposed, while existing zoning calls for at least 60.
“I think there’s a lot to like about this,” said Coun. Matt Dell, noting the project will add badly needed rental housing. It’s a mixed-use building with a ground-floor commercial unit, on a bus route and close to downtown.
“I do believe that saving the developer from digging down into bedrock three storeys with an approximate cost of let’s say a $100,000 per parking spot … will translate into more affordable rent.”
Coun. Jeremy Caradonna said the building is the right fit for the site.
“There’s always going to be some criticism about car-free or quasi car-free developments, and the reality is that they don’t work for everybody, but they do work for a lot of people,” he said. “I think the most recent statistics suggest that we have 25 per cent of households in Victoria — between 20 and 25 — that are already car-free, so we know that there’s a big demand.”
Mayor Marianne Alto said it’s hard to argue against a project that promises 91 new rental units — a net gain of 76 when the 15 units of The Abbey are demolished.
“I really want to focus on making homes for people and not cars,” she said.
The project itself didn’t come in for a lot of criticism, but councillors Stephen Hammond and Marg Gardiner, who voted against approval, were concerned about city staff recommending that the project bypass a public hearing.
Gardiner noted that, in the past, surprising things have been brought up when the public gets a chance to weigh in.
“I think that I would support this, except that I think that there should be a public hearing,” she said.
City staff pointed out after the vote that the recommendation that the project bypass a public hearing was due to the fact it complied generally with the official community plan, and that it wasn’t a judgment call on the project itself.