A Public Hearing regarding an application to rezone 2150 Melrick Place, changing the zoning from the current Large Lot Residential (R1) to Small Lot Residential (R3), took place at the December 11 Regular Council meeting. If successfully rezoned, that lot could become up to 10 lots, although the more realistic achievable density, according to a staff presentation, would be about seven or eight lots.
Staff advised that additional guest parking be provided. For the “affordable housing” component, the developer would offer secondary suites.
Four neighbours spoke during the Public Hearing. Their concerns echoed other concerns from other developments around Sooke as of late: traffic, density, noise, and parking. A common objection was the mix of densities, given that the existing homes in the area are low density (bigger lot sizes, more spacing between houses).
In October, Council also approved the rezoning of 7004 Melrick Place to create 18 bare-land strata lots and 2 fee simple lots. This is located just to the north and on the other side of the street to the rezoning being considered on December 11, which would create an additional seven or eight lots.
Gus Van Arendonk owns the property kitty corner to the proposed lot. His concerns include density, traffic, parking and noise. This will impact the existing local population. There will be no opportunity to control the parking, and if the buildings are developed to include secondary suites, that means four cars per unit. He can foresee that they are all parking on his lawn. Affordable housing is a good thing, but he wants to see it done properly, in a way that considers the community.
Alan Dolan, also a resident on Melrick Place, urged Council to consider the proposal in the context of the two other neighbouring projects. This proposal puts a very high density project in the middle of a low density area. The property is on a sloped, treed property, which can present development problems. He felt this type of development didn’t consider the environment, wildlife, drainage. We need to give more consideration to green space corridors. Densification is a good idea where it’s flat and not geographically challenging. This is not that.
Staff notes drainage is dealt with in Bylaw 404.
Linda White from Melrick Place is not opposed to development. You’re doing this in an already developed neighbourhood. This is unfair to all the people already living there, She’s concerned about the parking, the noise, the four cars per household. Rentals bring added pressure to the area. This is an established neighbourhood. The transient nature of a densifiied neighbourhood that’s already established concerns her. She feels Council is not hearing them, they are not listening. “How would you feel if this were happening in your backyard?” Sooke has a specialty about it, and Council isn’t listening.
Lastly, Ed Berlando spoke. This property is too small for such a big development. If the original house stays, there may only be housing spaces available on the south of the house. It will be crammed in. This isn’t Sooke core, which allows for densification. This is not a residential growth area. Staff clarified that this is considered medium density. Ed pointed out it’s all low density around this lot. From a fire point of view, access for fire trucks could be challenging. Also, closely spaced houses mean a fire can jump from house to house. Prevailing winds are west to east.
The Public Hearing was then closed, and Council discussed the matter further.
- Mayor Tait: Continues to struggle with the notion that a suite in a house constitutes affordable housing. The home-owner will set the rate, and the rate will be whatever the market will bear. There’s no guarantee that it will actually be “affordable.” There’s also nothing preventing suites from being converted to AirBnB units, which don’t fall under the rental definition that is currently needed in Sooke.
- Parkinson: Understands the need for affordable housing, but these won’t necessarily be affordable for especially youth. The costs of rentals has essentially doubled in Sooke over the past decade. Parking is an issue, especially if the car in the driveway blocks the car in the garage. Sooke is losing some of its ambiance, she argued, and green spaces are also lacking.
- Logins: Shared public concerns about the house remaining on the lot, and that it crams in the remaining homes. It doesn’t fit the surrounding area. “It just doesn’t fit.” Parking and fire access are also concerns for Logins.
- Pearson: When it first came forward it was put through a rigourous parking requirement. He acknowledged that a mix of small and large will change a neighbourhood. There are some giant homes being built on the bigger lots. It does blend in well. With its current zoning, Pearson warmed, that lot can end up with four of five “whopping houses” on that property. The blend does give more options to buyers. “I will be surprised if it doesn’t work.”
- Tait clarified there is no covenant in place, it would have to be decided tonight. Pearson seemed to be remembering a different discussion around a different development (possibly 2004 Melrick Place, which passed a rezoning on October 10, 2017 (See item 8.1)).
- Berger: Asked about parking. Staff noted that six lots would create four additional parking spaces. Staff noted it is a narrow lot, and they might work with a neighbouring property. The would have to accommodate their own road on this property.
- Logins: Was concerned about getting a fire truck up the road. If there’s a shared road with a neighbour on a narrow lot, will it impede parking, will this impede extra lots. Staff: There doe seem to be a lot of what if’s but the fire concerns will be addressed and must be satisfactory to the fire chief.
- Reay: Noted a number of applications for increased densification have come to council. This continuation of requests for densification is a consequence of those previous allowances.
- Berger: Noted various standards will be upheld.
The motion for a third reading (stamp of approval) for the zoning amendment passed. Councillors Ebony Logins and Brenda Parkinson along with Mayor Maja Tait voted against it; the rest were in favour. The motion carried.
The December 11 2017 meeting
All elected officials were present: Mayor Maja Tait, Councillors Brenda Parkinson, Berger, Ebony Logins, Kerrie Reay (left early due to illness), Rick Kasper, Kevin Pearson
December 11, 2017 Full Agenda
- Council to consider bylaw amendment in January, allowing mobile homes on residential lots
- Condos coming to Maple Avenue South
- Sewer continues to plague Sooke Council
- Public Hearing: Sooke narrowly approves another higher density rezoning application
- The notion of a perpetual business licence nixed for Sooke
- Want to do business with the District? Then a business licence from the District will be required
- Proposed Murray Rd staircase to Boardwalk replacement may cost taxpayers $75,000
- Sooke Council will issue apology letters, revisit Memorial Dedication policy early in 2018