Courtenay council has approved third reading of a zoning amendment that would permit a Victoria company to build a pair of apartment buildings near the hospital at Mission Road and Veterans Memorial Way. Woodsmere Holdings proposes to construct two, four-storey buildings containing a combined 94 apartments: 16 three-bedrooms, 46 two-bedrooms and 32 one-bedrooms.
Several area residents spoke against the proposal at a public hearing last month. Some are unhappy about the height of the complex, others are concerned about traffic congestion. Some worry about decreased property values.
Coun. Doug Hillian is satisfied that the provision of housing and economic considerations justify the impacts in terms of noise and privacy. He notes the proponent has provided for an onsite caretaker, which differs from other developments and would hopefully address some of the concerns.
In terms of property values decreasing, Hillian doesn’t recall hearing evidence that multi-family and rental accommodation devalues properties.
“Most of the property in our community has been going up in value in recent years, almost regardless of what the people who live there do, although I appreciate that people take great pains to look after their property, and are concerned about this,” Hillian said at the Dec. 2 council meeting. “If people are concerned about multi-family and rental accommodation in their neighbourhoods mixed with single family devaluing properties, then it begs the question of where in fact do we put developments of this nature? The reality is we simply don’t have limitless supplies of land. We have a rental housing crisis, and for us to turn down this opportunity because of concern for things like property values, to me, would be a difficult position to take.”
Hillian is more concerned about questions related to traffic congestion and safety, especially considering the school zone in the neighbourhood. He feels a presentation by a traffic consultant did not inspire public confidence because it left more questions than answers about entrance and exit points at Mission Road. Council supported his motion for an amendment to have staff address traffic safety concerns.
Coun. Melanie McCollum suggests a zoning change from commercial to multi-residential could lower the traffic volumes. Coun. David Frisch concurs that the project could lead to a better overall traffic management plan.
“I think this project represents some of the principles we support with development coming forth,” he said.