Condos and retail eyed for Marigold Nursery site in Central Saanich

Development proponents want up to five new buildings on the land.

Planner for Marigold Lands Ltd.

The team with Marigold Lands Ltd. presented their plans for the Marigold Nursery site in Central Saanich to a large crowd at an open house Tuesday night.

The land could see different buildings put in, including apartment buildings and commercial space.

“The vision is really to have a local serving, neighbourhood serving commercial use that could include a cafe bakery possibly and ideally a small commercial use that reflects its past use as a nursery,” said the company’s planner, Joaquin Karakas. “So a small flow shop and nursery shop selling bedding plants and that sort of stuff. And also the possibility of a small grocery store or a small retailer that could sell every day types of commercial needs…”

He said  one of the strategies was to have many buildings, rather than a few, as it creates a connective open space network, creating more attractive and higher density buildings.

The demographic range of who the project hopes to reach is also vast, being anywhere from age eight to 80.

There would be duplexes and townhouses for young families and a range of apartments, both condo strata apartments and rental apartments ranging in size from studio to one bedroom, for singles or young couples looking for something more affordable. He said there could also be up to two or three bedroom units for larger family or empty nesters.

Many nearby residents at the open house raised concerns with having these buildings right in their back yard. One resident by the name of Jim, who did not give his surname, said he opposes the plan.

“The community does not want this massive development here,” he said, claiming the vast majority of people at the first open house meeting in December only wanted single family homes.

Brooke Smith, one of the owners of Marigold Nursery, asked opponents of the project if they were in fact customers of the Nursery, to which some replied they were.

“I am Brooke Smith, a long term resident and a family member and this breaks my heart that its come to this, but I put all of my support into this development,” she said.

Resident Robert Stevenson, who said he supports the development, said it could create more of a green environment if they were to put in a small grocery store as part of the commercial space, which could cut traffic and create more exercise for those who live in the area to get the products they need. He added that change is inevitable.

“I live here and I think what the issue here is, is people don’t like change. It’s inevitable, its going to happen no matter what and putting a development in here is a good thing…” he said.

In terms of cost, Karakas said it’s difficult for them to say as it depends on the market rate.

“What we’ve tried to do is really address market affordability, so providing housing types that on the market are going to be affordable to most people,” he said, adding they are trying to create townhouse and apartment forms that are more affordable and compact, addressing the affordable housing need.

“As part of that, one of the buildings is intended to be and will be entirely a purpose built rental building, which is another form of housing that is very underrepresented in the region and there is almost a zero percent vacancy rate for rental.”

The team is currently undertaking an OCP and rezoning amendment process that requires one public meeting followed by a public hearing.

“We have elected to do more than the required amount of public meetings because we know that this is a significant project in an existing neighbourhood, so it’s really important for the client to hear from the residents and the neighbourhood,” said Karakas.

He noted Tuesday night’s meeting and an earlier one in December, were the company’s main public meetings.  He said they want to get their rezoning and OCP amendment application in to the District of Central Saanich within the next four to six weeks.