Hearing the councilor’s commentary at this COTW just made me angry. Thorton Joe basically said that she has been convinced that heritage redevelopment should be a labour of love, and not an exercise that results in a return for the developer. Wow, so are we now only going to accept benevolent benefactor’s development proposals for the seismic restoration and protection of the City’s heritage assets? That is like saying owning a local book store should only be the gambit of retired investment bankers or something like that. You know, its no way to make money, they’re boutique- like heritage restoration. What a weird privileged thing to say… or to think. Old Town has got to have something like 100 plus heritage registered buildings that are not seismic upgraded. Yeah lets wait for gifts from developers to protect these?
And then Councilor Young saying that he would still prefer to flog the dead horse that was some 8 other proposals for the land adjacent? Yeah, like any of those got any traction with the heritage community either. This position seems more like some sort of internal feud with councilor Isitt because, seemingly, Isitt got his way to force the developer to no longer consider the use of public lands.
In both these cases, this seems like a negligent use of the extraordinary power and privilege that comes with being a City of Victoria Councilor. Here we have a derelict piece of land with crumbling buildings at one of the most conspicuous locations in the city. A location that is noted as a priority development location in the official community plan. This is a literal eye sore for the city of Victoria and the linchpin to making a contiguous waterfront pathway. And we have councilor’s saying that they are either only willing to entertain a development that would make no financial sense for the developer or that they are willing to wait for something better to come along. It has been 22 years since the first proposal for this property was considered and over 40 years since this piece of land was used for anything other than a urinal. Councilor Potts nailed it imho. This proposal is a beautiful building, it retains, rehabilitates and seismically upgrades two of the City’s oldest heritage buildings. It provides one of the last pathway connections required for a contiguous waterfront walkway and releases land to the north to complete this amenity. It adds public realm improvements and provides 47 purpose built rental homes. And it finally addresses this eyesore that is emblematic of a city unwilling to make visionary/ progressive/ hard to make decisions. Lets get on with it.