On July 4, View Royal Council voted 3-2 to approve the rezoning of Christie Point, paving the way for the largest housing project in the town’s history.
The decision allows the Toronto-based Realstar Group to begin a $200 million development, replacing 161 two-storey, 1960s-era apartments with 473 new ones, most of which will be in six-storey buildings.
In the vote on Tuesday, councillors Aaron Weisgerber and Ron Mattson voted in favour of the rezoning, while councillors Heidi Rast and John Rogers voted against. But Mayor David Screech still cast the decisive ballot.
A long road to get here
In the end, the voting process followed only 15 minutes of back and forth. However, months of thought have gone into the rezoning, including a six-hour-long public hearing a week ago.
The proposal, initially filed in December 2016, resulted in months of community pushback. Residents of the current apartment complex have voiced numerous concerns, including questions about the new development’s affordability, effects on the surrounding environment (which is a bird sanctuary), traffic congestion, parking spots, and pet friendliness.
Chief among the issues raised has been the price of rent in the new development. Realstar initially only promised “market rates”. However, the group later agreed to grandfather in rents for 20% of current residents.
Earlier this month, Mayor Screech hailed the generosity of Realstar’s tenant-compensation package, saying “I can’t imagine any future offer being any better.”
But numerous members of the community remain staunchly opposed. In fact, tempers threatened to boil over at the council chambers on Tuesday. The Times Colonist reported that a middle-aged many confronted the Mayor after the vote, loudly calling him “a loser,” and saying “See you at the polls next time, buddy.”
Screech reportedly responded by saying “Get the hell out of here.”