May 28 PLUC Early Thoughts

It is a big agenda for Thursday. So what do we have?

370 & 384 Harbour Road (Dockside Green)

This agenda item involves a complicated set of documents proposing amendments to a whole other series of other documents which were created 10 years and were suppose to direct how development is to occur at Dockside Green. But then funding never happened, or so I’ve heard and buildings were never built so changes are needed.

The focus of proposed changes to be considered tomorrow are those which are necessary for the construction by Catalyst Community Community Development Ltd of two 3 storey (49 units total) affordable housing units at Dockside Green (on sites 370 & 284 Harbour Road as shown below):

Dockside Affordable Housing

The first staff report is for the Rezoning & OCP amendment application necessary to permit construction of two affordable housing units  (plans here). However if you read the report in depth you’ll see that it is actually a “zoning amendment” for which a Development Permit with Variances is then required (staff report here). I assume this “amendment” instead of a typical rezoning is being proposed because the zone in question is a Comprehensive Development Zone – which is different than a typical zone in how it establishes general criteria for the entire 15 acre Dockside Green site as well as specifies particular sub-area requirements.

Of note is that the proposed variances are to:

  • permit ground-floor residential uses
  • allow residential units to be constructed without a buffer of another building between them and Harbour Road.

Included for consideration with this proposal tomorrow is one email of opposition (here) and two emails of support (here and here). A public hearing will be required (where I imagine a fair bit more opposition will come forward based on a late CALUC Letter), before approval for the two affordable housing units can be granted by Council.

Of note is that the Dockside people attended my community association last night and said there are still 1,000 units to be built at Dockside because only 22% of the maximum permitted density has been built at the site. They also indicated that separate developers will be responsible for building each of the new buildings proposed.

Furthermore, according to the President of Dockside Green developments these larger wholesale changes to original 2005 plans will be coming forward to PLUC next month. Should be fun!

1146 Caledonia Rezoning & OCP Amendment

This proposal had originally been in the May 14 PLUC agenda but was removed at the applicant’s request. Of note is that there don’t appear to have been any changes to the Rezoning and OCP Amendment Application report or the associated Development Permit report since the previous meeting. So hey.

1146 Caledonia

The proposal is to rezone the property (currently an empty lot as shown above) from the R- 2 Zone (Two Family Dwelling District) to a new zone to increase the density to 0.86:1 floor space ratio (FSR) and permit a six-unit multiple dwelling. The proposal has general support of local community association (Fernwood) and staff are proposing that certain siting elements be amended prior to the subsequent public hearing to mitigate visual impact.

Of note is that the proposal site is the empty lot next to Kings park, one of the many urban residential city parks with folks where folks were “sheltering”  and so the hope (the applicants are selling) is that new development may discourage improper park use.

62 Cambridge Street Rezoning Application

According to the staff report this is a proposal to rezone land from the R1-B Zone, Single Family Dwelling District to the R1-S1 Zone, Restricted Small Lot (One Storey) District so as to construct a new house on the land (to be subdivided with the rezoning) which will then require a Development Permit with Variances for reduced front and side setbacks (in the green space shown below).

62 Cambridge Street

A new zone will also be required for the existing house so as to allow them to have a legal secondary suite compliant with city regulations.

Since the agenda was first made public a late response from the local community association (Fairfield Gonzales) has been added and seems to document a mixed but mostly negative response to the proposed developed. What seems to be of issue is that the community considers it a 2 storey building while the staff report and applicant are calling it a “1 storey with basement”.

Fun fact is that basement according to City Zoning is defined thusly:

“Basement” means any part of a building between two floor levels that is partially or completely below grade and has a finished ceiling that is no more than 1.2m above grade.

The same bylaw also defines “First Storey” thusly:

“First Storey” means the storey above the basement of a building, and in the case of a building without a basement, means the lowest storey.

So the practical difference is? How deep the foundation goes?

1070 Joan Crescent Rezoning & Heritage Alteration

This is for a piece of property next door to the site of the Craigdarroch Castle and it is an application being made by the castle heritage society. As noted in the staff report the purpose of the application is to rezone the property from the R1-A Zone (Rockland Single Family Dwelling District) to a site-specific zone to permit a Heritage-Registered house and an original garage to be used as a cultural facility with commercial exhibits, multi-purpose spaces, administration offices, a tea room and a gift shop.

1070 Joan CrescentA letter from a concerned neighbour is included in the package for consideration by Council regarding the proposal.

A Heritage Alteration Permit Application is also included with this proposal because of plans to convert the existing Heritage- Registered residence to a Visitor Centre for the Craigdarroch Castle Society. The proposal includes the construction of an addition and the relocation of the existing garage for use as a Tea House.

1 Dallas Road Development Permits

According to the staff report 

The proposal is to construct a small building on a floating dock at Fisherman’s Wharf, 1 Dallas Road, which would be used primarily as a ticket office for Harbour Ferries. The building would be 3.8m in height and have a floor area of 17.2m2.

According to a second staff report:

The proposal is to construct a small floating public washroom building at Fisherman’s Wharf, 1 Dallas Road. The building would be 4.08m in height and have a floor area of 14.23m2. An existing floating public washroom building would be renovated and relocated approximately 6m to the east to accommodate the new public washroom building. Once this project is complete there will two public washroom buildings at Fisherman’s Wharf. Portable toilets would be provided on site for an interim period of time while the work (which includes the installation of a new holding tank for both buildings) on both the new and existing public washrooms takes place.

A letter of support from the James Bay Neighbourhood Association is included for consideration with the Washroom DP because Fishermans Wharf is a popular place in James Bay. My only real comment on this set of proposals is that the file structure for these two development proposals identifies as them as “rezoning” in the agenda.

Fun fact:  I learned the other day that the GVHA is the “landlord” for Fishermans wharf and that the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Association and GVHA are both members of a separate Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society. Which really just seems like too many groups if you ask me.

1990 Fort Street DP with  Variances

According to the staff report this proposal is for a change of use to enable a 100-seat restaurant (70 interior seats and 30 patio seats) with a Fort Street frontage in a ground floor commercial unit that is currently unoccupied (see picture of building below):

1990 Fort Street

The variance is for parking.

 195 Bay Street DP with Variances

According to the staff report the proposal is for two setback variances to allow for the construction of a deck (that would accommodate 40-60 people and include construction of pergola) and construction of an enclosed storage area at the Da Vinci Centre.

195 Bay Street

The proposed variances are related to reducing the side and rear yard setbacks from 5m to 3.6m (eastern internal boundary) and 4.1m (southern internal boundary), respectively.

 135 Medana Street Heritage Alteration Permit

According to the staff report the purpose of this Application is to rectify past work completed without permit and to apply for a Heritage Alteration Permit to cover the recent renovations undertaken to the existing deck. Two variances, a relaxation of the rear yard setback and the allowance of an accessory building within the property’s side yard, are included with this application.

It all seems messy and kinda silly. Apparently an un-permitted deck was added to a property prior to it receiving heritage designation (in 2000) and then the current owners got themselves into a mess when they renovated a deck which I guess they didn’t recognize was a heritage deck even though it is attached to a heritage house. As seen in the picture below, it looks like these folks have a fairly tall apartment/condo building as their backyard neighbour.

135 Medana St

All I know is that Councillor Madoff will be grumpy tomorrow because she hates it when heritage rules aren’t followed.

1156 Fort Street Heritage Alteration Permit

According to the staff report the proposal is a retroactive application to address the recent demolition of the Heritage- Designated outbuildings, which were to be retained and rehabilitated in accordance with Heritage Alteration Permit Application No. 00179 which was part of a larger rezoning that was granted by Council on October 23, 2014 (see item #5 in meeting agenda for all relevant report and documents).

1156 Fort Street

Councillor Madoff is going to be super grumpy tomorrow.

One General Thing to Note

The City should really give some thought to the Planning reports they issue when both a rezoning and a development permit (with variances or not) are involved. And I say this because the exact (or nearly exact) same set of attachments seem to be added to both the rezoning and DP reports  – easily making for 100+ pages of redundant content in the total agenda package for tomorrow.

Where I recognize that this “paper issue” is less urgent now that Council and staff are paperless with a ragtag army of iPads, tablets and laptops and fewer paper agendas are being printed for PLUC meetings, I still think the city could be more efficient with its presentation because what are you more likely to read:

  • a 10 page agenda PDF attachment?
  • a 50 page agenda PDF attachment?
  • linked and manipulable content available on a webpage or app that provides easy and convenient access to other relevant content (such as the plans and other letters current duplicated in the city’s rezoning and DP reports)?

My vote is for C but I recognize we’re still a long way off because the City has only recently evolved to a digital space which really only consists of what I like to call “electronic paper”.


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