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  • Controversial Developments

    WHEN A NEW DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL APPEARS, controversy often follows close behind, with some developments more controversial than others. FOCUS is tracking the most controversial developments—the hot spots. Click on an orange dot in the map above to see what's creating controversy. If we're missing something, please send us an alert. You can zoom into and out of the map (use the + and - buttons) and pan around the map by clicking on it and dragging.

  • ARYZE DEVELOPMENTS INC. is planning to build an 18-unit, 3-storey townhouse complex on Foul Bay Road at Quamichan. The 22,000-square-foot well-treed site was formerly occupied by a large 1911 heritage house that burned down in late 2016. Zoned for single-family housing, it is also a heritage-designated site, meaning the developer requires both rezoning and a heritage alteration permit.

    Aryze proposes to remove 29 trees in total, including 19 protected under the City’s tree bylaw; they are retaining 12 trees and planting more. 

    A neighbourhood group has formed in opposition, particularly to the tree destruction. As stated on the group’s website: “The mature trees are not only beautiful—they play a significant role in climate change by sequestering carbon, storing water during heavy rain events, and cooling the earth. They also provide food and housing for countless birds, mammals, and pollinators.” 

    The same group is raising funds towards legal costs to fight Aryze’s petition to remove an existing restrictive covenant dating back to 1917 that would limit the site to no more than four residences.

    Other controversial features include the limited onsite parking (16 stalls) which, neighbours believe, will impose street congestion and hazardous traffic flow on a currently safe, pedestrian-friendly street.” They also question the project being marketed as “affordable housing” given that the minimum combined family income required to qualify is likely over $160,000. (Aryze hopes to use the BC Housing Affordable Homeownership Program whereby homes are sold below market value—with the discounted amount used as the downpayment. The mostly three-bedroom units, even after deductions, would be over $700,000 according to the developer.)
    At a December 17, 2020 meeting of the Land Use Committee meeting of the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association—the second public meeting about the property—67 percent (16 of 24) of attendees opposed the development, mostly on the grounds of it being too dense, too high, causing too many trees to be eliminated, and traffic concerns.

    See a longer Focus report by Russ Francis on this development here

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    Affordable housing needed, but also trees
     
    We agree there is an urgent need for affordable housing in Victoria. However, who would find the planned townhouses affordable? Left out of the equation is the urgent need to retain mature trees, like the 24 to be removed from that site.
     
    Recent news reports that increased greenhouse gases being released from quickly melting Arctic permafrost were not included in calculations of how quickly the planet is warming. So we have less than 10 years to take the “drastic actions” urged by the hundreds of scientists involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendations.
     
    One of the best-regarded ways to fight climate change is to retain large trees and forests. Big trees sequester far more carbon than saplings. And they’re doing it now, when we need it most. Planting trees is also excellent, but won’t help soon enough. Trees take decades to get big.
     
    Well-treed lots like 902 Foul Bay Rd. help sequester carbon, keep us cooler as temperatures rise, prevent flooding through storm water mitigation, and clean pollutants including smoke from the air.
     
    We are also learning more about how much trees benefit people’s mental and physical health, and reduce stress levels.
     
    One study showed people had worse health after local trees were removed. Throughout the pandemic, many have renewed appreciation of these benefits.
     
    Trees are so necessary that we should require developers to design buildings around them. It is time to start planning “smart density,” that leaves our mature trees to keep sequestering carbon.
     
    Jan Firstbrook, Janet Simpson, Frances Litman, Carolina Ashe and Grace Golightly, on behalf of Community Trees Matter Network Duncan
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    I was wondering if anyone realizes that Aryze Developments seems to have their founder and managing partner sitting on the the City of Victoria's Advisory Design Panel whose purpose is to advise Council on design merits of plans referred to the Panel. (Matthew Jardine: The name is missing one "t" on the City website, but I believe it is the same person, and would therefore be a conflict of interest.) All these panel members should be vetted for fairness, especially if neighbours are being threatened with court cases because of development plans.  https://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/city/other-boards-committees/advisory-design-panel.html

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    2 minutes ago, Guest Guest said:

    I was wondering if anyone realizes that Aryze Developments seems to have their founder and managing partner sitting on the the City of Victoria's Advisory Design Panel whose purpose is to advise Council on design merits of plans referred to the Panel. (Matthew Jardine: The name is missing one "t" on the City website, but I believe it is the same person, and would therefore be a conflict of interest.) All these panel members should be vetted for fairness, especially if neighbours are being threatened with court cases because of development plans.  https://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/city/other-boards-committees/advisory-design-panel.html

    It's quite common and in fact routine for developers to sit on the ADP. They just do not hear individual applications by their own people. And besides the ADP is really a formality as they are more akin to cheerleaders of the projects. They merely make suggestions and rarely vote against  a project unless it's just completely wrong, contrary to the OCP or something like that. SO MJ of Aryze was not on the panel for 902 FB. There are many other issues with Aryze and this project in particular but this isn't one of them. Thanks.

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