Colwood council rejects 142-unit apartment proposal
Despite reduced footprint, neighbours opposed the higher density
This artist's rendering of 595 Bezanton Way has been stopped at a rendering after Colwood council rejected the 142-unit apartment proposal at first reading. (📸 Three Point Properties)
“This feels like a bait and switch.”
“I’m really getting tired of council allowing developers to rezone and rezone and rezone and rezone. It’s not fair. I feel like you guys just rubber stamp things. I personally had hope that with this new council coming in that you shared the same views, because that’s certainly the impression I had. Now I’m wondering if I voted incorrectly.”
“Langford appears to do well in erecting apartment buildings. We should let them do what they do so well.”
These were some of the comments from public speakers at Colwood’s council meeting on Monday night who were deeply opposed to a proposed 142-unit apartment building on Bezanton Way.
Many were neighbours to the now vacant lot, who said they bought new homes in the neighbourhood adjacent to Olympic View only after carefully reading development plans and the Official Community Plan. They knew about the previous plan for a townhouse development, but collectively expressed frustration at feeling duped by this new plan that will bring significantly more traffic and neighbours.
Apartment building will need less rock blasting than townhouse plan
The new proposal came after Colwood changed its blasting rules, the developer, Three Point Properties, said. Staff were concerned at how much blasting would be required for the townhouse proposal. Even though they’re less dense, townhouses require more rock blasting, and would have a larger footprint than the apartment building, developer representative Ian Laing told council.
Shrinking the townhouse proposal to an acceptable blasting impact made it too small to be financial viable, Laing said. So they pivoted to an apartment building, which dramatically increases the density but manages to have a smaller footprint.
Much of the proposal falls within the boundaries of the current zoning including the density ratio—and managed to leave 57% of the property undisturbed—but the developer is asking for an increase to allowed height (to six storeys from three) and to open up what kind of tenant the apartments are for. The current zoning rules allow apartments for seniors (or less dense homes for anyone); the developer wants to build apartments that aren’t exclusively for seniors.
“I would love to support a project like this that has less blasting and more land preserved, but I’m in a hard spot because this plan is not sitting well with our community. It’s not my job to convince the public to accept this plan, that’s your job,” Coun. Cynthia Day said.
Coun. Ian Ward said that in isolation, the proposal looks good. “But I cannot look at it in isolation, I have to look at the bigger picture,” he said, acknowledging that the rules changed part way through for this developer.
With sympathy expressed to the developer, council unanimously voted to reject the proposal.