Habitat for Humanity eyes major land offer in North Saanich

Habitat for Humanity will receive a donation of land to build 10 homes if a local developer wins rezoning approval for property in North Saanich.

Reay Developments Ltd. is seeking rezoning to allow 17 single-family lots, plus permission for Habitat’s multi-family units, on property bordered by the Patricia Bay Highway, Bakerview Place and Lochside Drive.

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A public hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Current zoning allows two-acre parcels on part of the site and half-acre parcels on another, said Reay’s Brian Berglund.

If the plan is approved, non-profit Habitat for Humanity would receive about three-quarters of an acre, he said.

Yolanda Meijer, chief executive officer for Habitat in Victoria, said that would be the largest donation of serviced land it has ever received. The organization has put up 22 homes in Greater Victoria.

Habitat for Humanity builds affordable housing for families, but high land costs make it challenging to buy property, she said.

That is why the offer means so much. “We can’t do it on our own,” Meijer said. “We need the partnership of a developer.”

Reay Development’s site is bisected by Reay Creek. A covenant barring development is planned for the land north of the creek because of contamination from upstream. The contamination has been the focus of cleanup efforts at the Victoria International Airport, where much of it originated due to historical uses, and elsewhere along its path.

The remaining land, which is the focus of the rezoning, totals about 3.5 acres, Berglund said. It is south of the creek in an area with no contamination issues and near a residential area.

He said the proposal is seen as suiting seniors who are downsizing. “We are hoping to build ranchers,” he said.

If rezoning is approved, construction would likely start in spring 2019.

North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall said this is the latest in a string of development proposals for that property to come to council in the past 15 years.

In this case, the developer would also donate two pieces of land on the east side of Lochside to the municipality as parkland, said Finall, who would have liked to have seen more land donated for that purpose.


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