Tenants at Christie Point can stay for at least a year, developer says

View Royal council is expected to formally adopt new zoning on July 18 that will pave the way for a $200-million development at Christie Point, adding 312 rental units to the town.

Current tenants in the 161 units due for demolition have a year before anything will change, the developer said.

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“Our message to residents is that nothing will happen at Christie Point for a minimum of 12 months, and we will continue to keep them informed every step of the way,” said Realstar Group vice-president Heather Grey-Wolf in an email to the Times Colonist.

“We anticipate that all going smoothly, we would be under construction by the end of 2018, early 2019, and construction will take approximately two years.”

That would see completion of the project in early 2021 on the peninsula in Portage Inlet, home to a bird sanctuary since 1923.

Tenants will be given a one year’s notice, once Realstar finalizes its implementation plan, she said.

Currently, there are five two-storey waterview buildings on Craigowan Road that were built in the early 1960s.

They will be relpaced by 473 units in seven buildings, mostly six storeys on land that is already developed.

“We look forward to being a part of the solution to the region’s rental housing challenges and needs,” Grey-Wolf said.

Opponents fear the demolition will worsen the housing situation, saying the new units will not be affordable to current tenants by the time they are built.

Realstar has committed to setting aside 33 units for tenants who have been at Christie Point Apartments for 10 years, enabling them to return to new units at their former rents.

The company is also exploring phased construction to allow some residents to remain in their old units until completed new units are available “should they choose to and providing it is safe to do so,” Grey-Wolf said.

Detailed design of the buildings and other studies are expected to take the better part of year, ultimately determining the real cost of the project, she said.

In a blog on Wednesday, the Christie Point Advocates group thanked View Royal council for its “thoughtful deliberation” but said that its 3-2 vote allowing the development means the majority of existing tenants will be displaced.

Realstar’s tenants support package is far above what is legally required and gives compensation to all tenants in some form.

But the group also sought grandfathering rents for all tenants and the appointment of a tenant relations officer. It is now encouraging the town to “pursue every means possible” to keep tenants in View Royal in apartments they can afford.

Mayor David Screech, who supported the rezoning, said on Facebook that he is compiling a list with regional housing staff of affordable housing projects due for completion by 2020, coming up with 1,542 units. None were in View Royal.

“I also don’t believe it is reasonable to essentially force a property owner to provide quasi-social housing.” he said, apparently referring to statements that the town had an obligation to stipulate some affordable units in development proposals.

The Christie Point projects “is a good redevelopment of the site and will replace aging buildings with an increase in density befitting of the site. We must use land wiser to prevent more and more sprawl and this project does use land wiser in my view.”

kdedyna@timescolonist.com

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