Esquimalt council approves re-zoning application for 899 Esquimalt Road


ESQUIMALT -- Following last night's public hearing a controversial re-zoning application was given the green light by Esquimalt council.

An estimated two hundred residents were on hand to share their concerns regarding the property located at 899 Esquimalt Road, as the night concluded with council approving the application by a four to three vote.

The original application that was brought before council in 2017 included a development that would have been up to twelve storeys tall, however due to an adjustment to Esquimalt's Official Community Plan, all mixed-used residential/commercial properties in the township are now only permitted to be six stories high. 

This sent the developers back to the drawing board -- and after a string of public consultation and work with town staff -- the application would be changed to one looking to re-zone the property all together. The move drew the ire of many local residents, with many taking issue with the proposed height of the development.

The application came before a public hearing for the first time on July 8th, when site's developer introduced a plan to build a 'health centre' as part of the proposed twelve-storey high project.

"In the summer we heard significant concerns from the community," said Esquimalt mayor Barb Desjardins. "So we asked the developer to go out and consult further."

Following the additional consultation, the developers returned to council with an amended application -- depicting a ten storey maximum instead of the original twelve. However, even with the changes to the application, Desjardins says that at last night's forum many residents were still not in favour of the project going ahead.

"It was fifty-fifty," said Desjardins. "We had a lot of speakers from the immediate area, both for it, and with concerns about the project."

Following the hearing, Esquimalt council approved the application by a four to three vote.

"There were a few extra things we requested of the developer to put assurance to," said Desjardins. "Things like not establishing commercial space on Wollaston Street."

She says the developer is also tasked with ensuring that the proposed health centre is fully staffed, and to do this Desjardins says the company will be offering incentives. With the projects approval, the mayor says that the old, deteriorating buildings located on the property at 899 Esquimalt could be demolished fairly soon.