Letter to Council: Le Fevre and Company – Development Permit with Variances for 515 Chatham Street

Posted on September 28th, 2017 · Posted in Land Use, Letters
Mayor Helps and Council
City of Victoria
No.1 Centennial Square
Victoria, BC
V8W 1P6
September 28, 2017
Re: Le Fevre and Company – Development Permit with Variances for 515 Chatham Street
Dear Mayor Helps and Council,
The DRA Land Use Committee has not been contacted by the applicant or the applicant’s
Architect to discuss this project. In absence of a presentation or meeting, the DRA LUC has
reviewed the drawings for the proposed building. Based on the information contained in the
drawings, the purpose of the Development Perm it is to create a market condominium building
with ground floor commercial space fronting Chatham and Store Streets. The drawings indicate
the applicant is requesting a variance for height that would allow for the construction of a fifth floor
of residential accommodation to achieve the maximum permitted FSR for this site.
Comments and concerns raised by committee members are as follows:
  • While the proposed density complies with the existing zoning, the building appears to require a significant height variance to accommodate the fifth storey. Council should consider granting this variance only if it is satisfied with all other aspects of the design.
  • The intent of the Old Town Design Guidelines is to promote buildings that are strongly contextual and respect the “densely built up, small scale, small lot character” and “not looking for monumental buildings”. The sheer size of this proposal with its extremely long, unbroken, unarticulated and repetitive facade is out of context with the typical rhythm of historic development in Old Town and particularly the Chinatown local area and is offside with the Old Town Design Guidelines.
  • While design guidelines reference the area’s industrial past. Corten “Weathering Steel” may not be a representative material.
  • The extremely small unit size is homogenous throughout the proposal with no provision of larger units for double or family occupancy. The recent ruling on STVRs would hopefully encourage the applicant to revise this proposal and provide a range of unit sizes designed to accommodate the needs of permanent residents including families.
  • At minimum, articulation of the facade and change of glazing patterns and cladding materials between the phases 1 and 2 should be noticeably distinct and would help reduce the impression of massiveness of this proposal.
  • It was noted that there is a Nightclub opposite to the north fronting Discovery Street that has been in operation for many years. Phillips Brewery also hosts many live concert events and has done so for several years. Members pointed out that there have been serious livability issues created with other recent residential projects built in close proximity to nightclubs without adequate consideration given to sound mitigation measures and full disclosure by the developer to the owners. Members agree that there are expectations that sound transmission mi tigation measures be included within this project and that the existence of the nightclub and music venue and its possible livability effects be fully disclosed by the applicant to any potential purchasers. DRALUC does not support the possibility of longstanding entertainment venues be hounded out of business because of the lack of either mitigation measures by the applicant or due diligence by the future owners.
The DRA LUC is concerned that amalgamation of properties into large parcels (especially in Old
Town) will facilitate the construction of buildings that do not respect the neighbourhood context.
This application is an example of this and it may be appropriate for Council to create a policy to
address the potential results of the amalgamation of such lots (perhaps through the new zoning
bylaw) to encourage the construction of “Ballerinas” not “Elephants”.
While the applicant is not required by statute to consult with the CALUC in this particular situation,
the DRA LUC would like to point out that given the extremely large size of this project, it is
particularly unfortunate that the applicant made no effort to provide the public with a rationale to
support the proposed variances or the non-compliance with the Old Town Design Guidelines.
The DRA LUC would encourage Council to fully support the City of Victoria’s Old Town Design
Guidelines and request this proposal be reconfigured. In our opinion, it is not compliant with
existing policy nor would be in the public interest for this application to be approved in its current
form.
Sincerely,
Ian Sutherland
Chair Land Use Committee
Downtown Residents Association
cc COV Planning

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