105-unit housing proposal for Esquimalts West Bay survives public hearing – Vancouver Island Free Daily

A proposal for a six-story, 105-unit home in Esquimalt’s West Bay neighborhood made most councilors weigh the pros and cons before finally moving on.

After a public hearing on November 15th, the Council carried through Wexford Developments’ proposal to rezoning three properties in West Bay Terrace and two Dunsmuir Roads in third reading.

In response to feedback, the developer previously reduced the number of units from 125 to 105 and switched from a five-story structure to a thinner six-story structure that set the top two floors back. The thinner design would make it possible to keep more trees on the site, add landscaping, and improve the street scene on the site with features like a new sidewalk.

Residents, many in the West Bay area, were primarily concerned about the height of the building and its effects on sunlight. Some were disappointed not to see a shadow effects study.

Esquimalt employees were concerned that the application did not include affordable housing units. Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Wexford’s Laura Fader said staff had failed to apply for affordable housing after about a year of correspondence. The developer advised the city council that, especially after reducing the original number of units, the inclusion of affordable sites would essentially affect the feasibility of the project.

Local residents also expressed concerns about how the apartment would affect the parking spaces in the area. The five existing properties currently house 20 units, according to Esquimalt staff. The proposal envisages a parking garage with 87 electrified stands, seven of which are reserved for visitors.

Wexford boasted that his project is focused on promoting and improving active and public transport and said this will help reduce vehicle consumption. The development includes a free year of Modo Car Share and an annual bus pass for residents, an internal bike sharing program and around 130 bicycle parking spaces. The developer will also give residents of the building up to $ 500 for an electric bike or up to $ 250 for a regular bike.

Even councilors who were in favor of moving the project forward – as suggested – admitted that they were kind of divided, but said there were enough professionals to influence their decision.

Mayor Barb Desjardins said the project, which uses the area’s active and public transportation, would help alleviate some of the parking problems and align with the city’s goals.

“If we want to influence climate change, we have to continue promoting this type of transport, and this is a good location for it,” said the mayor.

“By offering alternatives, we can try to encourage people to change their habits.”

It is not yet known when the municipal council will consider the requirements for the reallocation.


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