Letter to Council: Chard Developments/University of Victoria – Rezoning/OCP Amendments for 1306-1424
Updated: Jun 21, 2021
Mayor Helps and Council City of Victoria No.1 Centennial Square Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
August 15, 2017
Re: Chard Developments/University of Victoria – Rezoning/OCP Amendments for 1306-1424 Broad Street and 615-625 Johnson Street
Dear Mayor Helps and Council,
The DRA LUC has reviewed the drawings for the proposed building and hosted a CALUC meeting on 8 June 2017 for the above-mentioned application. Sixteen people registered their attendance at the door. The presentation was conducted by Mr. Paul Merrick, Architect and Mr. David Chard of Chard Developments.
Based on the information presented by the applicant the purpose of the Rezoning and OCP amendment is to create a market condominium building with ground floor commercial space fronting Broad and Johnson Street, and a market rental building to be retained by the current property owners (UVIC) fronting Broad Street. It is planned to rehabilitate the existing heritage building on the site and integrate this building with the market condominium proposal. Information received by the CALUC after the public meeting indicates the applicant is requesting an OCP amendment to increase the FSR of this project from the allowable 3:1 to 5.7:1. Variances for height from the allowable of 15.0m to 20.7m are also requested
Comments and concerns raised at the Land Use Committee public meeting and by committee members are as follows;
• Several concerns were expressed regarding the height of the buildings and the configuration of additional stories on the heritage building. Precise numbers outlining proposed FSR and Height for the application were not presented to the public at the meeting making the presentation technically incomplete
• The applicant was asked for a compelling rationale to justify a request for such a substantial increase in height and density for this project. The response was that economics of the project require it. It was pointed out that the co applicant UVIC had received the majority of the property at no cost through the estate of Michael Williams and that other developers had successfully rehabilitated heritage buildings purchased at market cost without requests for increases in density beyond that permitted by the OCP.
• Concerns were expressed that allowing such an amendment would set precedence for a new minimum and expectations for similar treatment for all projects from this point forward in old town. It was pointed out that the OCP was recently revised and a framework for the distribution of density throughout the Downtown Core Area was established. The appropriate density for Old Town was established at 3:1 and the applicant appears to be requesting almost double that amount
There were many business owners from the buildings under application present at the public meeting. It appeared that they had not been informed of the intended application nor had been contacted by the property owner prior to receiving the CALUC public meeting notice from the City of Victoria. The Landuse Chair has fielded many phone calls from tenants concerned about their tenancy. The purpose of the CALUC public meeting is to discuss the land use issues of the application. Due to the property owner’s lack of dialogue with their tenants, the public meeting and significant time since was largely and inappropriately consumed by Landlord/Tenant issues. A recent and lengthy public consultation process conducted by the City of Victoria reviewed the OCP and DCAP and policy guidelines for density and height for all of downtown and updated the policies and bylaws to reflect the public interest. On June 20, 2017 the Board of the DRA approved a policy
“To not support OCP amendments in Old Town without a compelling rationale to do so”.
The amendments requested for this application are disproportionate to City of Victoria’s OCP Policies for Old Town and the rationale presented to support these amendments is not in our opinion compelling or in the public interest and therefore should not be supported by staff or Council in its current form.
Ian Sutherland Chair Land Use Committee Downtown Residents Association
cc COV Planning UVIC BOG