The Harris Green development passed third reading in Victoria council but final adoption has been postponed due to amendments made at the third reading.
After passing through 5.5 hours at the committee of the whole, seven hours in a council meeting with the previous council, 4.5 hours in a public hearing, and almost 300 pages of correspondence with the current council, in the last hour-and-a-half meeting during the third and final reading, Coun. Jeremy Caradonna introduced an amendment that will apply to the second and third phases of the project, but not the first.
“I think that this application came to us in a somewhat flawed state and I think that the previous council that first considered this application in committee of the whole and first and second readings was very much focused on just building units, and of course, we need units, we need purpose-built units in this city very badly,” Caradonna said introducing the amendments in the Feb. 16 council meeting.
“But some of the other aspects of the application I felt were underappreciated, including aspects related to climate action to transportation and to livability.”
The amendments Caradonna introduced included:
- Requiring the developer to only use electric energy systems except for the commercial spaces where required
- Increase the number of carshare cars and dedicated parking spaces to a minimum of 15
- Increase bike parking stalls to at least 2,500
- Ensure at least 50 per cent of bike parking stalls have charging for e-bikes
- Add bike maintenance and repair stations
- Provide all tenants without a car a bus pass for up to three months
- Ensure adequate electric vehicle charging
- Reduce the amount of residential parking from 0.52 stalls per unit to no more than 0.34 stalls per unit.
The amendments passed 5-4 with councillors Caradonna, Dave Thompson, Krista Loughton, Susan Kim, and Mayor Marianne Alto in favour, and councillor Chris Coleman, Matt Dell, Marg Gardiner and Stephen Hammond opposed.
“We need this housing more than anything and I don’t want to take any risks on this,” Dell told CHEK News Friday.
The third reading passed 8-1 with Hammond being the only person opposed.
“I just find it’s too tall, not just for my liking, but actually for the OCP and the downtown core area plan,” Hammon said. “When I was a kid, we lived in a small town called Minnedosa, Manitoba and it was about 2,500 people, and that was an entire town, and we’re looking at putting somewhere between 2,000 maybe 2,200 people in one and a half blocks, and I just think that’s too much.”
Because of the approved amendments, the project now has to go back to the developer to make the changes. The developer will then need to come back to staff, who will inform council the changes have been made or that they were not possible to be made, at which time council will hold the final vote on the project.
Mike Kozakowski, with Citified.ca, told CHEK News that proposing last minute changes like this could leave a sour taste in Starlight, and future developers, mouths, adding it puts projects into a high risk category.
“If word starts to spread that the City of Victoria is a higher risk region in which to invest these sums of money, and they are large sums of money, what could that mean down the road for future housing stocks? Certainly not going to help,” Kozakowski explained.
Alto said she isn’t worried about that, as this is an extraordinary circumstance.
She added these are the goals of the new council, and expects more conversations like this moving forward.
“It is entirely appropriate for us to begin to signal there are in fact out aspirations and certainly it would be important for applicant to begin to think about that,” Alto said. “These are the applications of the future.”
Because the third reading has happened, council is not allowed receiving any new information on the project and will not be able to speak with the public on their opinion on the project.
Starlight denied an interview Friday.