British Columbia

Developer hopes new plan gives Victoria's stalled Dockside Green project a second life

Victoria's Dockside Green was once touted as the greenest neighbourhood in the world, but when development stalled in 2009 only a quarter of the land had been developed. Now, the developers have a new vision for the remaining land.

Project stalled in 2009 with only a quarter of the lands developed

An artist's representation of part of the Dockside Green development. (Dockside Green)

Victoria's Dockside Green development is seeking city approval for a plan that it hopes will revive development in the ambitious green neighbourhood.

The massive Dockside Green development was originally approved by Victoria City Council more than a decade ago. It was billed as the largest in the city's history and touted by international press as the "world's greenest neighbourhood."

The project featured retail spaces and a hotel using state of the art green technologies and LEED certified design, but stalled in 2009 with only a quarter of the land developed. 

Ally Dewji, the director of development at Dockside Green, said the project simply fell victim to the post-2008 financial market slump.

"When you're dealing with one building, it's a certain risk. When you're dealing with 12 buildings — like we had at Dockside — it becomes much more complicated," he said.

Now the project is seeking city approval for a new vision that would allow the development of the remaining land and complete the project. The new plan has scaled down many of the building projects, Dewji said.

Green claims questioned

The project's new plan has also raised concerns from critics who question whether the project is as environmentally sound as it claims to be.

For example, although a biomass plant was built for the project, the buildings currently use district natural gas.

Dewji said the plant needed 80 per cent of the development to be developed in order to be efficient, which is why they've been utilizing district energy in the interim. He said he was confident the development would eventually transition to green technology.

"We wouldn't have made that significant investment otherwise," he said. "We are excited for transitioning at the point where it makes efficient and engineering sense."

City councillor 'pleased'

At least one city councillor who has seen the project through its rise and decline says the new plan pushes the development in a good direction.

Coun. Pamela Madoff told CBC's On the Island she was pleased with what she's seen so far.

"When I first heard there was a desire to reopen the master development agreement, I had to admit as someone that had been there from the very beginning, my heart really sank," she said.

"But I can say to this point the principles that I think are most important have remained consistent through the changes."

The new plans for Dockside Green will be presented at a public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. PT at Victoria Council Chambers.

With files from On The Island

To listen to the interviews, click on the links labelled Dockside Green director of development Ally Dewji and Victoria City Councillor Pamela Madoff on new Dockside Green plan