Disputed housing project in Sidney gets go-ahead

A Sidney housing project opposed by more than 500 people, who signed a petition that there would be too much housing and not enough green space, was approved by council members who voted 4-3 in favour after a three-hour hearing.

Rezoning to permit 13 houses and two duplexes got the go-ahead Monday for 2248 Ardwell Ave. and 10364 Resthaven Dr. on 2.14 acres near Roberts Bay Bird Sanctuary that have been in the Inkster family for decades.

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The property was previously zoned for 17 houses in a single-family neighbourhood and will retain the existing dwelling on Ardwell.

Christine Kollofrath, spokeswoman for the ArdRest Neighbourhood Initiative that collected the signatures, said she was not surprised by the decision. It has prompted the formation of a new community group to oversee council meetings.

“We’re not stopping here,” Kollofrath said. “Too much is going on in town on an ongoing basis.”

“Everybody voted with their conscience,” said Sidney Mayor Steve Price, who cast his vote in favour of the changes.

Without the changes, a Garry oak with a large canopy would have been removed. Now, the tree will become the centrepiece of a parkette amid a development where the town will have a say over style and appearance instead of “cookie cutter” houses that could have gone up,” Price said.

Kollofrath said she expects the developer to seek more variances that will make the project “even worse that it is.”

Price said the previous zoning would have allowed 10-single family houses, each with a secondary suite, boosting the number of households to 20, all using tiny Simister Place.

Now, the developer will pay for a new road about 70 metres long to allow two exits. Price predicted the homes would sell in the $500,000 range.

He said has no idea who will develop the property and has never met the owners.

The subdivision will result in dozens of Douglas firs being cut, although an arborist report says many of the trees are in advanced stages of decline, but it was the Garry oak that people care about most, Price said.

All told, only seven protected firs and some other non-protected trees around the existing dwelling at 2248 Ardwell Ave. are likely to remain.

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

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