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Victoria mayor warns developers to keep their promises

Aryze went to council for a second time asking for changes to its townhouses project on Foul Bay Road.
web1_quamichan-at-foul-bay CROPPED
A rendering of the proposed development at the corner of Foul Bay Road and Quamichan Street. VIA DAU STUDIO

The mayor of Victoria is putting developers on notice: put your money where your mouth is.

Mayor Marianne Alto’s frustration at having to once again consider amending an already approved 18-unit townhouse project at 902 Foul Bay Rd. had her close to voting against the most recent version.

“I will say that for me, this is a hair’s edge. I am going to support this moving forward, but I’m going to say, as I said the second time this came up, if you’re going to come to council and be provocative and offer solutions, we are going to rely on you,” she said. “Do not come back and ask for favours. I don’t want to see this again from this applicant or any other.

“Be sure of what you can deliver. There is room for change, but not forever.”

Thursday marked the third time Aryze Development’s townhouse project was in front of council.

It was originally approved in 2022. Then last fall Aryze petitioned council to allow it to remove an affordable-housing commitment of four units. Council was split on the decision, but relented and approved the change rather than see the project die.

At the time Aryze said its financial numbers showed the four units no longer made sense.

This time around Aryze wanted council’s approval to remove a number of amenities including parking canopies with green roofs, a green roof on one of the townhouse buildings, a playground to be replaced with passive outdoor space, benches on Redfern Street, landscape changes and a hardscape walkway becoming gravel instead.

Alto said the project now bears little resemblance to the original that was approved in 2022. She noted the project has already been granted nine variances for things like parking, building height and setbacks.

“I’m absolutely a supporter of any type of townhouse development, but that development has to be consistent, has to be reliable, has to be part of an agreement between council and the city and the applicant,” she said. “This one now has suffered greatly from changes that could have been anticipated.”

Alto said her dilemma was determining if the project and its 18 housing units was enough to justify the changes being allowed.

Ultimately council endorsed the changes in a vote of 7-2 with councillors Marg Gardiner and Stephen Hammond voting against. Gardiner said the loss of the carports was the deal-breaker for her, though she was also frustrated the developer had come back to council with amendments after its initial approval.

Coun. Matt Dell said the project was coming back to council because when it was originally approved, the previous council encumbered the project “with way too many requirements trying to get neighbourhood support for town homes.”

The project has been controversial since it was first proposed due to the number of units and the removal of older trees.

The development site, a corner lot bordered by Foul Bay Road, Quamichan Street and Redfern Street, has been vacant since 2016, when a 1911 house burned to the ground.

Aryze’s project calls for two three-storey buildings to house the 18 units. The project requires removing 28 trees, including 17 that are protected under the city’s tree preservation bylaw. Another 14 trees would be kept and 33 would be planted to meet the city’s two-for-one replacement ratio.

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