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View Royal looks at higher density for waterfront development

Proposed townhomes and apartments at Esquimalt Lagoon.

townhomes, view royal, waterfront
OPTION 2: Proposed residential development for 200-206 Hart Road in View Royal -- four rows of 2-storey townhomes. [Besley Design & Build]
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Tuesday May 7, 2024 | VIEW ROYAL, BC [Updated May 8, 2024]

Socioeconomic analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


A potential housing development proposed for a waterfront property in View Royal was given airtime at the May 7 Town of View Royal council meeting this evening.

view royal, council, may 2024
Town of View Royal May 7, 2024 council meeting. [livestream]

A representative for the developer Besley Design and Build — through CitySpaces Consulting — introduced two options, which seemed very different, with no middle option, for the property at 200 -206 Hart Road.

Both Option 1 and Option 2 included an emphasis on leaving land open for environmental reasons and possibly with public access to the waterfront. But one plan (Option 2) was a traditional cozy set of rows of townhomes, while the other (Option 1) was a large apartment block and one row of townhomes.

aoartments, townhomes, view royal, waterfront
OPTION 1: Proposed residential development for 200-206 Hart Road in View Royal — 4-storey apartment building and one row of 2-storey townhomes. [Besley Design & Build]

Current zoning only permits detached single-family dwellings. The site slopes from northwest to southeast.

Neither option proposed single family homes, perhaps reflecting the current provincial government directions for housing supply increase in communities across the province but also the marketability of higher-cost homes. In that respect the proposal seemed attentive to current community needs.

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View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias pointed out that single family lots can allow for duplex or multiplex development (a recent change in provincial legislation).

townhomes, view royal, waterfront
OPTION 2: Proposed residential development for 200-206 Hart Road in View Royal — four rows of 2-storey townhomes. [Besley Design & Build]

Both plans seemed awkwardly strategized with the feel of ‘throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks’. A middle option seemed to be missing (e.g. a few single family homes with secondary suites nestled within townhomes).

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Mayor’s comment:

“I believe council was generally support of the concept and in particular the second option,” said Mayor Tobias in a statement to Island Social Trends [note: the option presented second was Option 1 with apartments].

view royal, mayor, sid tobias
View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias at the May 7, 2024 council meeting. [livestream]

“The proposal may exceed the minimum requirement for the new housing legislation however the density, intensity and massing seem appropriate for the space whilst providing preservation of tree canopy, ecosystem and potentially a walkable amenity that all of our residents can enjoy.”

“We have encouraged them to return to a Council of the Whole to discuss their proposal more fulsomely,” said Tobias.

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Public input will be welcome:

“This is a parcel of land that has been vacant for many years,” said Councillor Damian Kowalewich in a statement to Island Social Trends.

“I welcome the prospect of dwelling options for future homeowners or renters in the Town of View Royal. Given that this process is in its infancy, we will want to hear from residents, staff and environmental experts as we move forward,” Kowalewich stated.

damian kowalewich, view royal, council
View Royal Councillor Damian Kowalewich at the May 7, 2024 council meeting. [livestream]

Waterfront access is an option:

The reason given for the large amount of undeveloped land was that there would be a requirement for an archaeological impact assessment and that might have costs and unclear outcomes.

Significant stand fir trees along the Esquimalt Lagoon waterfront. High tide brings water high up onto the shore. Councillor Gery Lemon asked if the idea was to create a nature reserve.

The apartment building (in Option 1) would have units of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom layouts; the 4-storey structure would have variant heights to accommodate the site grade and possibly include some water views. The all-townhome design (Option 2) seemed like a more natural fit to what View Royal currently offers to residents.

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High tide at the 200-206 Hart Road property. [Besley Design and Build].

The 2.3-acre property is near a Department of National Defence operational property. The lots are each about half-acre in size.

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Tonight’s presentation was a touch-base to get council’s initial reaction before the developer possibly makes a formal development application. The mayor said he appreciated the information.

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Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke

Island Social Trends posts regional, provincial and national news at IslandSocialTrends.ca . The professional daily news portal was launched in 2020.

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering news of the west shore region of Greater Victoria since 2008 through various publications.

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