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Re-zoning Application 1201 Fort Street /1050 Pentrelew Place

Dear Mayor and Council:

Please be informed that I am against the above Rezoning Application because:

  • I am dismayed by the massing of the development, its size, the number of buildings, the height of the buildings, and the overall density.

  • I am concerned about the number of heritage trees that will be destroyed by the size of this development. A smaller development would allow more of these trees to survive the amount of blasting needed for this development and thrive in direct sunshine, not the shadows of tall buildings.

  • This proposal is based on an overly aggressive interpretation of the Official Community Plan which must be amended to allow the rezoning. This proposal seeks to maximize the anticipated floor space ratio (FSR) of the smallest portion of the property (28%) by extending it over the residential portion (72%), arriving at a stated FSR of 1.29 The combined FSR should be much less, and the amount of new floor space created much closer to the 6,253 square meters allowed by the rezoning sought in this proposal.

  • The numerous variances requested to bolster the rezoning application (and increase the floor space to 10,219 square meters) are not supportable, and no hardship has been shown by the developer to consider allowing any of these variances.

  • The two multi-family buildings, up to 6 storeys in height, are too high for Rockland and exceed in height all multi-family buildings in Rockland, along the Linden corridor, and along the Fort Street Heritage corridor.

  • I am concerned about the increased traffic and parking caused by this proposal to the long-term viability of the Langham Court Theatre and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria which rely on this parking.

  • I am concerned that the City is not looking after its own best interests by allowing this development to go forward without adequate income from Community Amenity Contributions and Density Bonuses gathered on developments in other BC municipalities. Where will the money come from to pay for the community amenities demanded by these new residents for parks, community centres, transportation infrastructure, fire halls, emergency services, etc?

  • I encourage you to insist that this proposal comply with the two directives given by Council to the developer October 26, 2017 to revise the density, massing, height and setbacks of the building to the south and to demonstrate how the condominium on Fort enhances the heritage character of the Fort Street corridor.

  • Since 2012, Victoria has vastly overshot its Official Community Plan target for building condo units, but has failed significantly to meet its target for building ground-oriented housing like townhomes or single family dwellings. Council has no mandate to rezone the southern portion of 1201 Fort property for condos, which is currently designated for much needed ground-oriented housing.

  • I am troubled by the absence of a sufficient affordable housing component in the proposal. We do not need to build more of what we already have - too many expensive condominiums.

  • How is this proposal sustainable when it is not built to L.E.E.D. standards?

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    Dear Mayor and Council,
    I am opposed to the Development Proposal by Abstract Developments for 1201 Fort Street.
    I support development in Rockland and Victoria as key to the future of Victoria. But this development should reflect a coherent vision for the city, and should take into account the capacity of neighbourhoods to absorb it. What I oppose is overdevelopment, and this is the approach of the proposal by Abstract for 1201 Fort Street.
    This proposal does not take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this extraordinary property presents. It requires significant rezoning that runs contrary to the overall vision and heritage conservation guidelines of the Official Community Plan, a product of extensive consultation with the neighbourhood.
    What I object to most are the two condominium buildings, one of 6 storeys along Fort Street, the other of 4 storeys behind the first, in an area zoned traditional residential in the OCP. This 2 acres offers the perfect opporutunity to create more ground-oriented housing including townhouses and multi-plexes which is exactly what Victoria lacks. We are overbuilding condominiums. The two tall buildings will overlook and dominate the entire residential nature of Pentrelew Place forever changing its character. Nor, do the townhouses provide an adequate transition because the two multi-unit buildings are simply too tall.
    The proposal includes removal of over half of the mature trees on the property and the perpetual loss of our important tree canopy. The replacement trees will be planted in either planters or in a meager 2 feet of ground which means they will forever be small. The required blasting underneath the townhouses and the condominium buildings threatens the structural integrity of buildings in the neighbourhood, especially heritage buildings, and the few remaining legacy trees.
    Thank you for considering my viewpoints.

    Dear Mayor and Council,
    I am opposed to the Development Proposal for 1201 Fort Street.
    I wish to add my objections to the final re-iteration of this proposal.
    It is almost the same as the original one - except for minor changes, mostly cosmetic - first drawn almost 2 years ago.
    The Official Community Plan identifies the 1200 block of Fort Street as within one of thirteen Heritage Conservation Areas. The proposal does not conform to the Heritage Management Strategic Plan, under which any new development in a heritage neighbourhood should provide continuity with surrounding development and not dominate the existing landscape.
    At 1.29:1 the Floor Space Ratio (FSR) for the development is too high, by any standard. It would add at least 150 people to a small neighbourhood. This proposal lessens the required parking on-site. No traffic study has been done as part of this proposal. Such a study is critical so that traffic safety and congestion concerns can be addressed.
    I agree that there is a need for more multi-unit affordable housing in Victoria, but Rockland already has a high proportion of its population (71 percent) living in apartments. These new luxury condos will not address the larger problem of affordable or accessible housing, even with the paltry allocation for below-market-value units somewhere else at some other time when counted by units, and much less when compared by value. ($250,000.00 versus approximately $75 million for the development when completed.)
    I would accept a lower multi-unit building facing Fort Street that complements the neighbouring buildings along the Fort Street Heritage corridor. I would also accept single-family dwellings to a maximum height of 7.6 metres on the rest of the property. Set-backs for all building should match the current zoning requirements and set-backs comparable to the buildings adjacent to the property.
    In general, I am concerned about the proliferation of site-specific requests for zoning changes in Victoria. These undermine the entire purpose of municipal planning and lead to uncoordinated development with no vision for building and sustaining a community.
    Thank you for your time.

    Dear Mayor and Council.
    The 1201 Fort Street proposal, a dense urban design, does not match the concept of residential neighbourhood in which it is situated. Yes, a small portion of the combined property is on a secondary arterial road and is currently zoned for 4 storeys.
    But, it is not a strategic location, nor is the long Fort Street corridor anywhere near the limit of fulfilling the capacity inherent in its current zoning. How many 6 storey buildings exist on Fort Street now? There are only three buildings from Douglas Street to Stadacona with another being built (the iconic Black and White). The vast majority of buildings are only 3 storeys and below. There is lots of latent potential for increased density along Fort Street to downtown, without even considering all the other under-utilized properties between Cook Street and the water, and along the Douglas Street corridor from Fort Street to Hillside.
    This neighbourhood, along with all the other unique neighbourhoods in Victoria, have qualities that we all value: open streets, setbacks that give the streets a park-like ambience, small compact housing that complement the historic larger houses that have become multi-family housing, and traffic approaches that enhance the walkability and liveability of the area. It is not necessary to turn Rockland into a dense Urban landscape to create more density. One cookie cutter design-template will destroy the unique character of this neighbourhood and all the others on which the design concept is applied. This gateway property has to perform its singular function of an adequate transition from the corridor zoning (4 storey) of the smallest portion to the residential zoning of 2.50 storeys that comprises 72% of the property.
    Zoning makes the difference and it is zoning that must be maintained. The answer is not to alter the Official Community Plan to create more site-specific zones (one of 700 in our City) for every development proposal. Why are we spending so much time, effort and money to create and update the Official Community Plan when so many development proposals seek to override it? The answer comes by fully utilizing the ample and generous zoning that we already have before we needlessly and carelessly amend the OCP with every request.
    This proposal has been almost two years in the making with numerous community meetings, three Committee of the Whole meetings and, yet, it is basically the same overly large, overbearing and ill-fitting proposal that it was when it was first unveiled. During this long time, the developer has not shown a ready willingness to compromise on the size of the proposal which is the basic issue for the neighbourhood. Beyond amending the OCP to enlarge the project the developer is also asking for numerous large variances.
    You have asked the developer to adjust the proposal to address your concerns and your requests have not been fully met. According to the local community, the proposal is deficient in many respects. Now, that you are asked to vote for or against this proposal as a package, I urge you to vote against it.
    Thank you.

    Dear Mayor and Council
    For more almost two years people in Rockland and neighbouring residents have demonstrated concern and frustration regarding the Abstract Development proposal to amend the OCP, rezone the Truth Centre property at 1201 Fort Street and the residence at 1050 Pentrelew place, along with a request for an abundant array of variances, some of them quite dramatic.
    I have been watching the process these long months. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement.
    On April 6, 2017 City Council asked Abstract Development to make revisions to their original development plans to address the resident’s concerns regarding massing, height and the overall dense scale of their plans.
    It was encouraging to know that City Council and City Staff heard their concerns. Yet, nothing of any import changed in the revised second proposal put forward in October. Unbelievably, City Staff recommended the proposal despite the fact that none of Council’s concerns were addressed.
    In the hasty December meeting, the third revision was put forward and received little debate or inquiry, except a quick vote to forward the proposal as it was to a Public Hearing.
    It is easy to understand Council’s frustration with the developer and his unwillingness to compromise with the concerns of the neighbours regardubg the overall size of the development, the height and massing of the buildings, the lack of set-backs, and the many variances requested.
    The community has made it very plain that they are not against the development of this property, but solely against the scale of this proposal and its many deficiencies, not to mention the precedent it would set for future proposals.
    Given that this is not the forum to revise this proposal, but to accept or deny it, I urge you, as my elected representative, to deny this proposal because it has not adequately addressed the concerns of the neighbourhood, nor the Rockland Neighborhood Association.
    Thank you.