At Monday night’s Regular Council meeting, Council gave consideration to making way for Sooke’s second co-housing project. All Councillors were present. Ultimately (spoiler alert), everything passed, paving the way for Sooke’s second cohousing project to move forward. If you want the details, read on.
Council’s deliberations were divided into three parts.
- First, Council had to determine if the applicant’s rationale for affordable housing would be supported.
- Second, Council had to address the dedication and construction of Goodmere Road.
- Third, Council was to give third reading to Bylaw No. 678, Zoning Amendment Bylaw (600-41). The purpose of Bylaw No. 678 is to rezone 6603 Sooke Road from “Large Lot Residential (R1)’ to “High Density Multi Family 4 (RM4),” with the intent of creating a senior focused residential cohousing community. This will be a six story apartment building.
On the matter of affordability, the applicant represented by Odette Pinho said that they wished to be considered as a unique project. They wished not to provide one offset affordable unit, as earlier contemplated. Instead, they wished to be considered a unique project, with inherent built-in affordability when compared to senior assisted living. Cohousing was much more affordable than assisted living could ever be.
Ann Clement, a resident of the first cohousing project in Sooke, observed that her experience goes beyond the price of the house. Her life in community means she has more opportunities that living in care would allow. It gives her a rich life on a limited budget.
“We are community-minded people,” she said, who in turn pay attention to giving back to the community. “We can’t afford not to have more cohousing,” Clement said, adding, “I couldn’t imagine another way of living.”
There were detailed discussion by some Councillors about waiving the District’s Affordable Housing Policy. Reay had concerns that, on selling their individual units, the original owner’s profit margin would be higher than if they contributed to the affordable housing account. Kasper said the District has to be consistent with all applicants. The burden to the developers would only be $16,000 for this project, and he wanted to ensure that the District was treating everyone equal. Berger said she supported the previous cohousing project, but she felt there was a need to be consistent with affordability, as per Kasper’s comments.
Mayor Maja Tait reminded everyone that arrangements had already been made with CMHC to address affordability, and the cohousing development had already met the test of affordability. The cohousing group received seed funding from CMHC, and this is being applied to the overall development. Tait also noted applicants had to take a course to buy in, so it differed completely from other housing developments. Resident Clement noted that house pricing for the Sooke existing cohousing units had dropped in the recent past, as it provided very specialized housing and therefore had a much smaller market.
“It’s not something you come to without intention.” Clement said.
The first part of the motion, that Council approve the applicant’s rationale for affordable housing, carried unanimously.
According to staff, the parking issues that had previously been discussed at Council have been addressed, with a 40% increase.
Resident Scott Miller who lives in the area observed that Goodmere is currently The Road to Nowhere. He inquired about the longer term planning for that road. Staff said the consulting got a little behind, due to the weather and various issues. Currently, they were only looking at this property. Staff noted that a sidewalk is planned for one side, and some drainage is being planned along with access to the property. Felton Lane, it was observed, was not a public road but an easement.
There was one matter of a resident not receiving sufficient notice. Sylvia Hallgren was surprised by the re-alignment of Goodmere road, and had just found out about about the District’s Public Hearing recently (the District only advertises in one print paper). She pointed out a few issues, including the bottoms of the properties don’t align. She had no opposition to what the cohousing group was doing, but she hoped that the larger picture of access to Goodmere would be addressed.
Staff noted that the Goodmere road alignment was to be addressed as a whole, separately, in the future.
The second motion also carried.
The public hearing portion of that item was then closed to the public, and Council gave Third Reading to Bylaw No. 678, Zoning Amendment Bylaw (600-41). Carried.
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