If reaction by some 100 Sidney residents at a recent open house is any indication, a proposal for three six storey buildings along Lochside Drive isn’t going to fly.
Total Concept Developments, a Kamloops-based company that has a bid in to purchase the Cedarwood Inn property in Sidney, presented early design plans on March 13 that include a new hotel and a pair of residential buildings on the 3.2 acre site. President and Development Manager Casey VanDongen says the meeting was positive, in that most people who spoke indicated they’re not opposed to development on the property.
However, most if not all who spoke on the early design concept were against six storeys.
Sidney resident Sara Benson says the main issue for neighbours of the property was the overall height. She said she lives at the rear of the Cedarwood Inn property and has always known it would, someday, be developed.
“But the six stories, that seems to be a trigger,” she agreed, noting she feels that height may have been presented as a loss-leader, to be sacrificed in favour of four stories, for instance.
“It’s a residential neighbourhood,” she continued. “Except for Blue Waters (a condo building), nothing around there is higher than three stories. People are very upset (about six stories).”
Shiela Minton, manager and customer care representative for Total Concept said their proposal is looking at the area’s need for workforce housing. Their company owns the Sidney All Care building and the care facility operating there has 140 employees and like many people who work on the Saanich Peninsula, they are in need for more affordable housing.
The Cedarwood property concept includes a building at the rear of the property that could fit that bill, said VanDongen, while the condos on the waterfront side would be more expensive. He admitted that presenting six stories at the start for all three buildings was an opportunity to talk about market housing and include affordable options. He said dropping down to four stories, for instance, is possible, but they would be using up more green space to get similar density on the site.
No matter what the developers ask for from the Town of Sidney, VanDongen said they’ll be looking for official community plan and zoning amendments to accommodate the height change and the move from a motel to hotel.
While their offer to purchase the Cedarwood Inn property is still being considered by its current owners, VanDongan and Minton say they’ll take the public feedback from the open house, revise their plans, and bring new concepts back to the public at a date to be determined.
Benson said she hopes the next meeting is well-advertised to draw in more people. She expects the next set of plans will take the buildings to four stories. She also suggested the company should come up with images that better reflect the colours and design of the buildings — rather than the stark white blocks at the first meeting.