It was disappointing to see View Royal town council approve the proposed Realstar redevelopment of the Christie Point site Tuesday night.
I have attended most, if not all, of the meetings open to the public and presentations by the developer, and have signed and commented on the online and door-to-door petitions.
Two of the five councillors voted against the proposal, one of whom, John Rogers, spoke well of the points raised by the majority of the people who spoke at the public hearing on the project one week ago. Many had also spoken at previous council meetings with similar feelings.
A large number of speakers at the hearing presented a host of heartfelt comments on the proposed development, the vast majority of which were strongly against the development; it’s too tall and too dense for this site.
And the mayor, David Screech, surprised no one with his vote in favour of the project (which was also the tie-breaker), as he has been in favour of it all along.
So this 16-acre, narrow peninsula, surrounded by Portage Inlet and the Gorge waterway, home to hordes of birds, and in its waters waterfowl, sea life and human paddlers, will see a 61Ú2-storey wall of apartments towering over the water and the surrounding trees.
And let’s not forget about the traffic accessing the site, limited to the one road, with triple the number of residents. God help anyone there hoping for emergency services during the morning and evening rush-hour crawls along the Old Island Highway.
Most of the current tenants will be displaced, as rents will be increased. The suggested improvement to the current rental crisis in the Capital Regional District will be affected positively only to a minor degree, if at all, and that’s only once the new complex is completed in who knows how many years.
Yes, the development there is old and needs replacing, but surely we could have come up with a better solution than just rubber-stamping the proposal of an out-of-province developer wanting to triple the number of units there.
Other, more modest suggestions for redevelopment were presented, but councillors Aaron Weisgerber (who made no real comments), Ron Mattson and their leader, Screech, would have none of it.
And how about my suggestion presented at a council meeting a while ago, for a land swap. Give the developer a piece of un-used land away from the water to develop and turn the peninsula back into a park, which was its intended and prior use, before the unfortunate construction of what were meant to be temporary apartments there some 50 years ago — unfortunate only as we now seem to think it has to be developed.
So it is a done deal. The developer from Toronto got what it wanted with only minor adjustments.
Let the mayhem of demolition and then years of construction begin. And the noise and the traffic.
And as Rogers suggested, council can be the ones to blame for what is inevitable, converting what was View Royal’s “jewel” to its “sore thumb.”
Steve Januszewski lives in View Royal.