Contentious Cordova Bay condo plan pulled at last minute

Just hours before a Saanich public hearing was due to get underway on a controversial condo development in Cordova Bay Village, the applicant opted to pull out of the meeting, which dozens of project opponents had pledged to attend.

“Some issues were raised late in the process from some residents that we hadn’t had the opportunity to consult with, so the decision was made to take a step back and afford the time needed to hopefully meet with them and discuss their concerns,” Citta Group’s Mike Dalton said in an email to the Times Colonist.

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It was an unusual move, considering that last fall Saanich council had OK’d sending the proposal to public hearing, a final step in the approval process.

Citta had proposed putting 25 housing units on two single-family lots at 986 and 990 Doumac Ave.

“I’ve got a smile on my face,” said Cordova Bay resident Colin Millard. “Everybody is phoning me and they’re so excited. They want to get it right, that’s what it’s all about.”

Millard said as many as 60 residents were ready to show up at Saanich Municipal Hall to make known their opposition. They say the development is too dense and too high at four storeys, down from an original proposal for five storeys. Two 1950s rental houses would come down along with 27 trees on properties owned by Chris Hemeon.

The proposal was supported by the Saanich planning department and the advisory design committee, while the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs said it had no objections. But Millard’s group objected; a dozen residents requested a moratorium on development applications until “a community-based vision for the development of the village” can be defined. The request was sent to Mayor Richard Atwell and council members.

Millard said the group made everyone aware of what is on the table and “found people who were dead set against it.”

A chief concern is that the development amid single-family houses and townhouses might set a precedent for what opponents considered developments suited for a more urban setting.

The community is also concerned about a larger development immediately south of Doumac, Millard said, where the Tru Value shopping plaza at 5124 Cordova Bay Rd. is zoned for 88 condos atop ground-floor retail and commercial development. That would require council’s approval because the original development application in 1998 was for only 16 condos.

“We need community involvement in planning that area,” Millard said. The delay means “it’s a chance to revisit the whole thing.”

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