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Multi-family, workforce housing envisioned for old school land

Early plans for a multi-family, workforce housing development need more input from the community, its presenters told Sidney council Monday.

In their presentation to Sidney council, Saanich school district facilities director Kim Milburn and school board chair Wayne Hunter said they’d like more information from the public, on what is appropriate for the site of the old North Saanich middle school, located in Sidney.

“You are in a very unique opportunity here because you’re not seeking a developer of this site to come to you to say here’s a proposal for this site,” Milburn said to council. “We’re coming to ask for some community guidance on development options here. What we’re seeking or what we’re seeing is around 130 units of attainable housing.”

The early plans are based on public feedback received at a pair of consultations already – one in February 2009 and another in November 2011. They also stem from desires from the town’s official community plan and the Capital Regional District, which each hope to see affordable workforce housing on the site, for families with annual incomes around $65,000. Preliminary sketches show townhouses on the north side of the 4.5 acre site, along White Birch Road and medium to high density multifamily buildings to the south, at Resthaven Drive.

“The lower density that the neighbourhood is seeking is really in [conflict] with that model and with developers to move in to provide some enhancements to the CRD housing agreement,” Milburn said.

He added the multi-family buildings could be up to four storeys high, a detail opposed by Mayor Larry Cross and councillors Kenny Podmore and Melissa Hailey.

Randy Humble, director of development services and acting chief administrative officer, said the allowable density under the OCP is 118 units on the site, but council can add “bonus density” if they wish.

Council voted to receive the information. The school district will hold open houses to collect input from residents and release a request for proposals for site designs that reflect the financial, affordability and energy efficiency requirements they see on the development.

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