Sea Terrace neighbourhood residents welcome new development into their community that conforms to the guidelines set out in the Official Community Plan. However, the proposed development for 734 Sea Terrace does not conform to the size, siting, and character of properties adjacent to it.
The house at 734 Sea Terrace is currently a one storey, single family dwelling. The property is zoned for a 1 to 2 family dwelling.
The developer proposes to build a five storey, 19 unit building which would require a rezoning to Comprehensive Development status. This is a huge step from its current zoning status and would be significantly out of step with every other building on the street.
What’s The Concern?
Negative Impacts on the Neighbourhood
- Out of Character with other buildings on Sea Terrace
Currently Sea Terrace has one to three storey single family homes and townhouses. Developing a five storey, 19-unit development on it will radically alter the nature and scale of this vibrant pedestrian corridor. The street is short, curved, and narrow with homes providing architectural setbacks and garden spaces that complement the attractive bedrock outcroppings and provide a sense of spaciousness and proportion to all who enjoy its charms.
The purple lines indicate driveways that feed into the intersection of Dunsmuir and Sea Terrace. Vehicles going to and from the proposed 19 units at 734 Sea Terrace would significantly increase the traffic moving through the intersection.
- Reduction in Pedestrian and Vehicular Safety
Currently pedestrians use the Sea Terrace pavement almost as if it was a vehicle free walkway. With an increase in traffic at the intersection due to residents and visitors coming to and going from the proposed five storey, 19-unit development, safe pedestrian access to and along Sea Terrace will be compromised. It is estimated that traffic on Sea Terrace will increase by 70% with the proposed building. Also, Sea Terrace and Dunsmuir Road present a tricky, blind intersection that will only increase the risk of vehicular accidents and pedestrian dangers with increased traffic from the development.
• Street Congestion and New Parking Pressures
Since Sea Terrace is a short, narrow, dead-end street that lacks a turn-around space. Large trucks, such as waste management trucks, at times back out of the street. Delivery vehicles generally park in the traffic lanes.
Parking on Sea Terrace is already scarce. Although the proposed development has 19 units, only 16 resident parking spaces are planned, since the site cannot accommodate more. Only two visitor parking spots are proposed for the five-story building. Residents and visitors to the building will have to find parking nearby. This means that the 3 resident parking spots on Sea Terrace and the 10 parking spaces intended for Barnard Park will be used as parking for the construction workers and the residents of the proposed development.
- Reduction in Sunlight and Open Sky
Going from a one storey building to a five-storey building will block the view of the sky for many Sea Terrace residents and for pedestrians. Residents on the north, east, and south side of the proposed development will also experience reduced sunlight in their yards. This is an important consideration for their gardens and impacts the feasibility of installing solar panels in the future.
• Threat to Heritage Trees
Presently 734 Sea Terrace is home to mature Garry oaks and immediately adjacent to the property are two older sequoia planted during the Barnard estate era. These trees presently have extensive root systems running throughout 734 Sea Terrace and depend upon the nutrients and water these roots collect. A five storey, 19 unit apartment building will impact so much of the subterranean yard that the root systems will be greatly reduced, thus compromising the ability of the trees to thrive or, perhaps, even to survive.
Comparing the Official Community Plan Guidelines with the Proposal
Official Community Plan
- OCP 23.5.1 – The size and siting of buildings that abut existing single- and two-unit and townhouse dwellings should reflect the size and scale of adjacent development and complement the surrounding uses. To achieve this, height and setback restrictions may be imposed as a condition of the development permit.
- The transition from 2 storeys up to 5 storeys is out of context with adjacent homes, and the massing lacks adequate setback to adjacent townhomes.
- OCP 23.5.2 – New buildings should be designed and sited to minimize visual intrusion on to the privacy of surrounding homes and minimize the casting of shadows on to the private outdoor space of adjacent residential units.
- The proposed massing creates significant shadowing and overlook of the adjacent private yards at 1-730 Sea Terrace, and the townhomes at 733 Sea Terrace.
- OCP 23.5.15 – Provide for slightly raised entrances to ground floor residences along with private yards that are accessible from the fronting street or lane to encourage community interaction.
- Patios for “ground floor” residences are a full storey above adjacent yards at 730 Sea Terrace – this compromises privacy for residents, and discourages community interaction.
- OCP 23.5.9 – Retention and protection of trees and the natural habitat is encouraged wherever possible
- Site Plan depicts an overlap of the Critical Root Zones of a well established Giant Sequoia with the proposed extent of the parking box, and does not account for areas needing to be excavated to build foundations/formwork. Site Plan is missing the CRZ for the existing Maple at 730 Sea Terrace.
This representation of the proposed project indicates how the size of the development is out of step with the other buildings on Sea Terrace.
The style of the proposed building does not resonate with the look of existing buildings on Sea Terrace. Nor does it allow for the proportion of green space that has been incorporated into the other lots on the street.
A More Acceptable Approach
Sea Terrace residents and the West Bay community at large welcome new development into the community. However, new development needs to be sensitive to and complement the form and character of adjacent properties, something the current proposal does not accomplish.
An acceptable approach would more adequately address the following:
– height transitions to adjacent properties,
– shadow casting,
– setbacks to neighbours,
– encouraging neighbourly interaction,
– minimizing tree impacts,
– protecting privacy,
– protecting views.
– increased traffic at intersection – safety issue
– parking pressure
– pedestrian safety
A Townhouse Development would address all of the above concerns.
The Bottom Line
The Esquimalt Official Community Plan provides the kind of values and policies that can support a decision to meet the needs of ongoing development without compromising Sea Terrace’s congenial and welcoming atmosphere.
We urge Esquimalt Council to require the developer to come up with a proposal that is more in keeping with the existing buildings on Sea Terrace and the lane-like atmosphere of the street.