Victoria OCP Accountability

What is this about?
Victoria residents are raising the money required to challenge in court a recent Victoria City Council decision that approved a 20-unit townhouse (Rhodo) development in the Gonzales neighborhood at 1712 & 1720 Fairfield Road.  While there were many concerns raised about this development, a key concern raised by many Victoria residents is that the Fairfield Road development exceeded the maximum 2 storey (7.6m or 25 ft) height restriction for this particular area, as set out in Victoria’s Official Community Plan (OCP) .  This concern is one concern that, by law, City Council cannot ignore.   

What City Council approved on August 8, 2019 was a development of almost 3 storeys (~11m or ~38ft).  The height of buildings is particularly important to defining the character of a neighbourhood.   The concern about the height is exacerbated by the fact that City Council also approved reducing the buffer between the development and the Fairfield Road sidewalk from 7.6m to 1.7m (5ft), and is also only 1.7m (5ft) away from Hollywood Park. These buildings will loom over other homes and people in the area. 

What is the money for?
The law firm Pearlman & Lindholm, who successfully challenged a Saanich City Council's approval of  a development that was also inconsistent with the OCP ,  has provided its legal opinion that this court challenge has a good chance of succeeding in court given how specific the OCP is about this particular height restriction.   This law firm will be representing me, to bring forward the concerns I share with many Victoria residents, concerned with how City Council disregarded the OCP when approving the Fairfield Road development. 

A petition was filed in BC Supreme Court on September 9, 2019.  The next step is to prepare for a court hearing which should occur within the next month.  I will be using the funds raised to pay for the legal representation provided by Pearlman & Lindholm, which is needed within the next couple weeks to be able to proceed with this court challenge.

Why challenge this in court?
We think it is important to hold City Council accountable to the rules that apply to new development proposals.  Following the OCP is not optional; it is a provincial legal requirement.   

If this decision is allowed to stand, it sets a precedent that City Council can approve other development proposals in Victoria without following the law.    

If you have questions about this fundraising campaign, please contact me.
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John Wells
Victoria, BC

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