A proposed development in Victoria’s Portage Inlet has neighbours fearing the project could have devastating results for the area.

Christie Point, a rental housing complex along a stretch of the Gorge Waterway, is generally described as low-lying and unobtrusive by residents.

But Toronto-based developer Realstar has plans to redevelop the area to expand it from 161 into 520 rental units.

“It will appear that you have a solid wall seven storeys high from the beginning of this property right to the end,” said Terry Eckstein, president of the Portage Inlet Protection Society.

Eckstein said he was shocked when he saw Realstar’s plans for the area, which would be built in phases.

Management for Realstar confirmed the proposal does fall under guidelines set forth by View Royal.

“The density proposed is actually at the lower level of that contemplated in the Town of View Royal’s official community plan,” said Heather Grey-Wolf.

Current residents would be given six months’ notice before having to leave, as well as a moving allowance and first right of refusal for the new buildings.

But many say if they do leave, they likely wouldn’t be able to return.

“We’ll have to move out, and there are going to be more units, but they’re not going to be units for people in my income bracket,” said resident Stephen Gwyn.

Others say finding a new place to live could be a tough task in a region with a rental vacancy rate under one per cent.

The plan was presented to View Royal council Tuesday – and so was the community’s opposition.

Other concerns come from residents across the water who worry about the project’s aesthetic impact.

“The project is quite large, with a lot of density built in to a fairly small area,” said Ian McKnight.

Eckstein also worries the tall buildings could result in more bird strikes, with Christie Point also serving as a migratory bird sanctuary.

Realstar says it’s working with environmentalists and arborists to lessen the impact on wildlife and the land.

“The next step for Realstar in terms of working with the community is to really walk them through those pieces, and hope to provide some comfort and trust,” said Grey-Wolf.

A formal application will be presented to council in the next month. 

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Louise Hartland