Telus Tower Approval Decision Delayed by Victoria City Council

According to the Times Colonist, government approval for Telus’s proposed HQ building in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, has been delayed.

City councillors heard from dozens of speakers for more than three hours during a public hearing on Thursday, December 9, but failed to reach a verdict. Councillors will reconvene on Thursday, December 16, at 9 a.m. to further discuss the proposal and vote on approval.

The project, known as Telus Ocean, is a 12-storey office tower that Telus wants to erect on a triangle-shaped lot at Douglas and Humboldt streets. The telecom wants the building to combine existing offices in the vicinity into one location, serving as its headquarters and accommodating around 250 employees, with space for up to 450.

The proposal initially reached the public hearing stage in March but garnered significant opposition over its sheer size, glass facade, density, and more, especially from neighbouring businesses.

Ian Sutherland, chair of the Downtown Victoria Residents Association land use committee, said in an interview that neighbours at the site in question are “unambiguously opposed” to the project. According to Sutherland, around 82% of the 128 people who provided feedback through the city’s development tracker did not want to see the project greenlit.

“The building is basically twice as massive as what the [official community plan] anticipated for the site,” added Sutherland.

Telus has since made several revisions to its plans for the building, including reducing its overall density and size, rotating the building to make sure it doesn’t significantly impede views of the Olympic Mountains, and dialling back the glass facade.

The telco has also assured that the building will feature other concessions for the community, including a public lobby on the ground floor, a restaurant, retail space, and improvements to the public land around it, such as an expanded sidewalk on Douglas Street. In addition to office space, the building will also have event space and an area to support the growing tech sector.

The revised plans have been the subject of public hearings since September, with the City Council expected to make a decision soon.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association and some downtown business owners have expressed support for the project, saying it stands to provide jobs and increase foot traffic downtown.

“We really think it would bolster the economy, our community, and it shows that Victoria is a very important place to be, as to why [Telus] would want to invest and have their office here,” said Erin Boggs, a co-owner of Robinson’s Outdoor Store.