Proposed Telus Tower in Victoria Reaches Public Hearing Stage

Image: City of Victoria

According to the Times Colonist, Victoria City Council has approved Telus’ plans for a massive 12-storey office building with a glass facade in British Columbia’s capital city for public hearing, despite concerns over the tower’s height, density, and possibility of blocking views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State.

Telus’ proposal was moved to a public hearing after a 5-4 vote in favor, with city councilors seeing the office tower as an opportunity to support downtown, create new jobs, and add to the city’s economy. If only the city put forth similar efforts into keeping Beacon Hill Park safe again for the public to use, instead of focusing on bike lanes.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the following:

“Yes, there’s a lot of requested extra density in this project. But there are also the kind of clean, well-paying jobs that any city would be envious of at this point in the middle of a global recession. Most importantly, for me, this building and this proposal says something about who Victoria is: a place for innovation, a place that looks at the future, and, most importantly, a place that believes in its downtown.”

The site for the proposed building, located north of the historic Crystal Gardens in Victoria, is owned by the city. Telus agreed to purchase the land from the city for $8.1 million CAD and possibly another $1.1 million CAD depending on the final proposal approved after the rezoning process.

The proposed office building will serve as regional headquarters for Burnaby-based Telus, and house around 250 employees as well as an innovation centre showcasing latest technologies.

With the controversial plans officially being put to a public hearing, it looks like Telus might be expanding more than just its 5G network in Victoria, B.C..

However, city councilors who are still not entirely on board with the project reiterated that a public hearing guarantees nothing, and the property’s developer should pay attention to the public’s concerns.

“Don’t think this is a done deal because each one of us has an […] opportunity to vote this down when it comes in front of a public hearing”, said councilor Stephen Andrew.

Buildings in downtown Victoria have historically been kept to lower heights, given the city’s proximity within the ‘Ring of Fire’, within an earthquake zone. However, as the Capital Regional District’s population continues to increase, it has put pressure on housing, resulting in shortages and developers given the green light to build higher.