I live on a quiet residential street in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It’s rare to see a house being sold on our two block long street, and even rarer to see development, in-fill, or re-development.
A modest 1950s-era house up the street from me at 3031 Jackson Street is situated on a huge lot at the top of the hill. Currently, the lot is park-like, covered in a grove of mature Garry Oaks. This property has a development proposal to replace the single house with 10 townhouses.
I’m not against development or in-filling when it is done right, and respects the character of the neighbourhood, however I feel this proposed development plan fails on several important fronts.
Why don’t I like this development?
- It lacks imagination – the units are just little wooden boxes with limited, dark living space for the occupants
- It doesn’t contribute anything to the neighbouring properties or improve the street scape
- It imposes yet more traffic onto our residential street
- Ten townhouses is too dense for this location
The developer’s plans tell me they are keeping their risk low by minimizing what they spend on the units, and maximizing the number of units to be offered for sale. I support the concept of the investors making money, but they also need to give benefits to the neighbourhood, not just build, sell, and move onto the next project.
What do I want to see?
- Fewer units and bigger, better-designed homes that people will want to live in for years to come
- More expensive units offering luxury features, better finishing on the outside, innovative building methods
- Better siting of the units to take advantage of the potential views from the high points of the property, even if this means removing more trees
- Rotate the units fronting Jackson Street so they are parallel to the street, compliment the existing houses, rather than hiding them away in the trees at odd angles
- Build energy efficiency into every unit and maximize natural light to inside spaces