Traffic: Current & Forecast
James Bay Neighbourhood Association
James Bay residents found their way to a different location for the October 2017 monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) to discuss traffic and transportation issues. The results of a City of Victoria six-week traffic monitoring and calming initiative and initial impressions of the Ogden Point Transportation Impact Assessment Phase 1, a part of the Ogden Point Master Plan in process, were reported.
Traffic: Monitoring and Calming Strategies
Brad Dellebuur, Manager, City of Victoria Transportation, presented the results of the six-week traffic monitoring and traffic calming initiative overseen by his department. Data collection from May 8 to July 28, 2016 included number of vehicles, speed, etc. Traffic calming on Oswego and Douglas Streets has been deemed effective. Smiley face electronic speed readers and flexible centre-of-the-road cones are conspicuous. Data collected by speed reader boards prior to and during the six-week period indicate marked overall speed reduction. After installation of the new readers, 80% of all traffic on Oswego Street travelled at 40 to 45 km in the 50k zones between Dallas and Superior. 170,000 vehicles travelled on Oswego and Michigan during the six-week period. 2,400 of the 170,000 vehicles exceeded speed limits (considered a good/low ratio). Of the 87,000 vehicles on the lower end of Oswego Street, 85% of the vehicles travelled at less than 30km; only 220 were exceeding the speed limit. Although the speed reader boards appear to be effective, they are a more expensive option than the centre-of-the-road cones. Permanent installation of these boards is under consideration as there are traffic calming priorities in other Victoria neighbourhoods and the speed readers are expensive. Pedestrians on the crosswalk at Simcoe and Oswego seem to have received better driver compliance during the study. The budget is in place to conduct a further study in James Bay to tie into the 2018 local area planning process.
170,000 vehicles over the 65 day period on Oswego seemed excessive to residents. It translates as just over 2600 trips per day. There are approximately 7,000 vehicles a day on Dallas Road and 6,000 on Fairfield. With regard to other traffic calming options, speed bumps are not recommended for routes travelled by Emergency Response vehicles and are usually placed on less travelled roads. Pinch points on roadways are natural traffic calming measures. A new cross-walk at Erie Street (Fisherman's Wharf Park) is anticipated by the end of the 2017.
The city is examining a city-wide solution to the speed limit around schools and play grounds. Consideration to reduce all speeds in James Bay to 40k was examined as a pilot but current provincial government regulations would require a sign on both sides of each individual street. Costs would be excessive; Douglas Street signage to 40k was $50,000.
Review of GVHA/Bunt Traffic Study - Phase 1
A Transportation Management Plan is required as a part of the Ogden Point Master Plan. Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) retained the services of Bunt & Associates to assess traffic loads and advice regarding transportation management. As an interim step, Bunt assessed the current traffic loads using City traffic data and mode split information (recording how vehicles proceed through an intersection - straight through or turn) gathered by Bunt staff. The assessment, reported in Bunt’s “Ogden Point Transportation Impact Assessment Phase 1” document, dated April 7, 2017, was provided to JBNA for comment in mid-September, 2017.
JBNA President Marg Gardiner presented a summary of the study in preparation for the final GVHA submission of the Master Plan. The Bunt Phase 1 Report focuses on traffic loads with current cruise ship passenger levels (approx. 10,000 per day) and a projected future traffic load (14,000 passengers per day). Bunt supplemented extensive City of Victoria traffic count data with observations carried out on September 22, 2016. On that date Bunt assessed the vehicle mode split data for key intersections between Ogden Point and downtown by counting vehicles, and recording how they proceeded through an intersection (travelled straight through or turned). Bunt used this information to project capacity (traffic congestion) problems, particularly at these intersections, with the anticipated 40% growth in cruise-ship passengers on a typical 3-ship evening. The Report identified five intersections at which “potential traffic capacity issues” could occur.
The JBNA Board was asked to provide comment on the report. A letter submitted to GVHA, included considerations from JBNA Board as well as two engineers.
In summary, the JBNA points included:
- The report is silent with respect to obligations under the James Bay Neighbourhood Plan;
- The “current” traffic count impacts are similar to those created and reported over the past several years by the JBNA;
- The "mode share" observations and data assessed were narrowly focused on vehicular traffic (did not include pedestrian needs, and did not respect the City's transportation hierarchy);
- Bunt data collection was not carried out during a high-transportation period;
- Data collection during a September school-day rather than a summer day or evening may have influenced transport operator behaviour, especially taxi drivers;
- The study seems to assume that observations taken during a 8 hr. ship stay could be used as a predictor of transportation operator behavior(s) for a more frequent evening 3-ship 5 to 6 hr. stay; and
- Specific data gaps and the need for disclosure of methodology were identified.
The Bunt Phase 1 Report is based upon previously known and new information. The 40% increase has been well known for years, but the Bunt analysis indicates previously unknown information about a GVHA Plan for a 250 room hotel and a 300 seat restaurant facility.
Although the home-porting of vessels has not been included in the Phase 1 traffic study, the Report identifies the need to include home-port traffic loads in the Phase 2 transportation study. It is unknown at this time if the Phase 2 study has been completed.
GVHA has identified further studies that are to inform the Ogden Point Master Plan. It is important that James Bay residents have some understanding of these plans prior to the Community Meeting for the Ogden Point Master Plan.
During a question and answer period, many issues about the impact of the GVHA plans were discussed. Federal funds are anticipated in 2018 to assist the installation of a dolphin to accommodate the larger post-panamax ships. Most of the port-of-call visits to Ogden Point are in response to the US Passenger Services Vessels Act which mandates a foreign port-of-call visit between two American port visits. A fine of $300US per passenger is charged if a stop is not made to a non-US port. JBNA has not seen a business case for the home porting. The JBNA requested a copy but the GVHA indicated that a business plan had not been created.
The bottom line of the presentation is that the Phase 1 Report identifies traffic issues as cruise-activities increase at Ogden Point. The next phase of the study will be expected to address these issues, hopefully with recommendations for mitigation. The Phase 1 Report also, for the first time, discusses the intent for a large 250 room hotel and restaurant capacity of 300 seats.
The public expectation of GVHA, as the steward of former public properties, is that GVHA do more than the minimum with respect to compatibility needs within the James Bay community. Leading edge good corporate governance would have quality assurance management principles with community noise, emissions, and shared street values; values that would result in compatible operations with our residential community. The JBNA has requested that metrics and performance targets related to environmental, social, and other quality of life impacts on the James Bay community be included with each plan.
The live music, especially the private events which have occurred during the month of September on The Breakwater Barge has been a concern. A resident reported that a band performing on The Barge was requested to turn down the volume while sound measurements were taken. The resident was subsequently informed by GVHA that the noise was within city by-law levels.
What are the GVHA and the City of Victoria doing to ensure the neighbours are being respected and that noise is not pervading their homes? At the October 11 GVHA AGM, Ian Robertson, CEO, acknowledged the inappropriate noise levels and committed to addressing the issue, perhaps reorienting the speakers so that sound is not being directed back to the neighbourhood and establishing an end-of-event time of 9 pm.
Another resident spoke of the significant disruption created by private weekend events on The Barge. She noted that The Barge was functioning like an outdoor nightclub and that the noise and disruption was completely disrespectful of the residents who live here. She pointed out that James Bay is not an entertainment district. Councillor Lucas commented that the City was thinking about considering rules related to noise events like the Barge, Rifflandia, and Phillips Backyard. The resident responded that The Barge runs every weekend from May to the end of September and cannot be compared to one-off events like Rifflandia.
Resilient Neighbourhoods has approved 17 micro-grants in James Bay. Many of them are for initial "neighbour gatherings" to bring neighbours together to connect and discuss ideas for what they might like to do together on their street/in their building. A variety of approved projects/gatherings have included: street/building potlucks, seasonal celebrations as an opportunity to formulate project ideas, forming Block Watch groups and discussing community safety, street beautification, emergency preparedness, and planning for Window Wanderland.
James Bay Library: November 4 Open House
Drop by the Broughton Street Library, Community Room, on Saturday, November 4, 11am to 3pm to learn about features planned for the James Bay branch, scheduled to open in a few months.
CRD Wastewater (Sewage) Update:
The CRD Wastewater Treatment Project team will be holding an information meeting for Niagara Street residents. The meeting is intended to gather input and information from residents to develop a plan to mitigate disruption during the anticipated work on Niagara Street in June, 2018. The CRD team is planning a project update meeting, tentatively November 27, a drop-in Open House (location & date TBA), and a presentation at the January 10, 2018 JBNA general meeting.
The agenda for the Wednesday, November 8, General Meeting has not yet been set. JBNA hopes to host City Planning staff at the meeting, with planners describing their approach to both broad community planning and to development proposal planning. Join your neighbours, Wednesday, November 8, 7-9pm, at the Coast Victoria Hotel Ballroom, 146 Kingston.