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Victoria, Oak Bay to make major decisions tonight

Jun 27 2012

? Future of lodge

? City's official plan

Both Oak Bay and Victoria councils will be making landmark decisions tonight.

In Oak Bay, councillors will decide whether to allow the redevelopment of Oak Bay Lodge, while Victoria councillors will hold a public hearing before deciding whether to adopt the city's new Official Community Plan.

Baptist Housing, in concert with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, is taking a second try at getting approval to demolish the Oak Bay Lodge at 2251 Cadboro Bay Rd. and replace it with a 320-bed, $80-million facility for Greater Victoria seniors with dementia who require complex care.

Oak Bay council rejected the proposed redevelopment in November. Baptist Housing then revised its plans and with Oak Bay embarked on a new round of public consultation, with online surveys, community round tables and public meetings.

Mayor Nils Jensen said he was pleased with the process.

"I think, by and large, we've had a much wider consultation process than we had the first time around," Jensen said.

The revised plan scaled back the majority of the building to five storeys from six and pushed it more to the centre of the site. In the previous application, the building was closer to the property line on the north side and required a setback variance along Cadboro Bay Road.

The development still needs variances to adjust the allowable height to six storeys from three, and to reduce the number of parking stalls to 109 from 320.

Meanwhile, Victoria Coun. Lisa Helps, a member of the council's planning and zoning committee who was on the OCP citizens advisory group before being elected to council, is excited about the proposed new OCP, which has been years in the making. "I think it's a really, really significant step in the right direction for a number of reasons," Helps said.

She said the consultative process undertaken in the plan's development was excellent. "The plan, from its inception, has been citizen-driven, which is one of the things that I like about it."

The OCP - a statement of objectives and policies that provides a framework for community planning and land use - envisions Victoria evolving into a more walkable community of neighbourhood centres.

It predicts 20,000 people will move into the city and 10,600 new jobs will be created by 2041. About half of the new arrivals are expected to be housed in the downtown and Songhees, while 8,000 will find homes in strengthened town centres and large urban villages. Ten per cent will go to small urban villages.

Implementation will be interesting, Helps said.

"It's going to mean density. It's going to mean height and it's going to mean all sorts of things that go along with having compact urban villages," Helps said.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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