Court order questions how Cordova Bay project OK’d by Saanich

A four-storey condo and retail development in Saanich’s Cordova Bay neighbourhood is going ahead, but a court consent order questions the way it was approved.

“This is a win for my client in that it affirms their position is correct and reminds municipalities that the official community plan must be followed,” said lawyer David Busch, of Pearlman Lindholm, who represents Cordova Bay residents Derek Hopkins and Karl Doetsch.

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A court petition filed March 27 by Hopkins and Doetsch maintained that the wrong set of rules was used to approve the development at 5120 and 5144 Cordova Bay Rd. — resulting in it being four storeys rather than one or two.

The consent order, agreed to by the District of Saanich and Hopkins and Doetsch, makes this declaration: “Bylaws enacted or works undertaken by a municipal council after the adoption of an official community plan must be consistent with that municipality’s official community plan.”

The order affirms municipal councils cannot issue bylaw or zoning development permits that are not consistent with a municipality’s official community plan or that are in conflict with the official community plan, Busch said.

Hopkins and Doetsch maintain that when the Cordova Bay development permit was approved, council went against the official community plan in favour of the local area plan and the zoning bylaw, Busch said. Busch argued the zoning bylaws for the area and the official community plan — specifically appendix N, which deals with development permit areas — are in conflict. “It’s my clients’ position that what Saanich did was not consistent with the official community plan,” he said.

The District of Saanich defended its position that the development permit was properly issued.

Saanich council voted 8-1 on Jan. 29 in favour of the permit.

Chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson advised councillors they were considering “a form and character development permit” and that the property was already zoned for that use, there were no variances requested, and the official community plan and other plans and permit guidelines had been considered.

At a public hearing, more than 50 people spoke and were evenly split.

Richard Atwell, mayor at the time, was the only council member to vote against the project. He suggested staff, developers, community and the community association could have gone one more round to address concerns about height.

The development as envisioned by Kang and Gill Construction with Alan Lowe Architect Ltd. would include a grocery store, bank, pharmacy, coffee shop and possibly a medical clinic on the ground floor.

It is to include 91 condos and span 36,000 square feet over an underground parkade. Of the 324 parking spaces, most will be underground.

The development is expected to take another 2 1Ú2 years to complete, Lowe said.

The site’s one-storey buildings have been demolished, including the Tru Value Foods grocery store, which closed last year.

This summer, Hopkins and Doetsch amended their petition so that, among other things, it no longer asked, essentially, that the development be stopped. They clients understood that because the official community plan is being updated, the Cordova Bay development would have been approved eventually.

“We anticipate the new official community plan will allow four storeys in that area, making it a moot point,” Busch said. “Going forward,” he said, “my clients don’t foresee similar circumstances arising like this again, so for them that’s a win. They are optimistic there will be no further confusion with regards to the official community plan and development proposals.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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