Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association
The April 2017 general monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) followed the Association's Annual General Meeting for 2016. The 2017-18 JBNA Board members are: Marg Gardiner, President; Linda Carlson, Vice-President, Laura Neil, Secretary; Wayne Shillington, Treasurer; Bob VanderVeen, Director (Membership); and Tim VanAlstine, Director. The JBNA welcomes new Board member Linda Carlson to the executive.
LIVE on Douglas
Greg Damant and Peter Johannknecht of Cascadia Architects presented a vision developed from the January 2017 Douglas Street Design Charrette which was reported in the January 2017 Beacon. The charrette explored opportunities for enlivening Douglas Street between Belleville Street and Mile 0 at Dallas Road. The Cascadia plan suggests a wider walkway along South Park with more trees and plantings all along the west side of Douglas, more distinct entrances to Beacon Hill Park, more active transportation options along Douglas Street including a pathway along the west-side of Beacon Hill Park, and a showplace focus at Mile Zero. More clearly defined crossings across Douglas Street from James Bay would allow the park to become a greater part of James Bay. The vision will be posted on the JBNA web-site (www.jbna.org)
The JBNA thank financial supporters of the visioning project: City of Victoria, Royal BC Museum, Downtown Victoria Business Association, James Bay Pharmasave, Il Terrazzo Restaurant, BlackBall Ferry Line, BriMar Consultants, and private donors.
Questions included opportunities for First Nations designs to mark the entrances and how street restrictions might impact cruise ship bus traffic on Douglas. A Fairfield resident, who is with Friends of Beacon Hill Park, raised concerns about the proposed North entry design endangering an at-risk native plant species. Participation at the charrette was restricted by financial constraints. Fairfield declined an invitation to partner in the project.
Embassy Inn 520 Menzies (corner of Menzies at Quebec)
Peter de Hoog of de Hoog & Kierulf architects presented a proposal to rebuild the northern portion of the Embassy Inn with a 5-storey wood frame hotel structure above a concrete main floor and a level of underground parking with 115 stalls. The current north structure has been closed for several years. The new facility will include meeting rooms, a fitness room and an enclosed underground pool. The existing hotel lobby will be renovated and the southern structure will be updated over time.
With 79 new rooms, including some one-bedroom suites, and the 70 existing rooms in the south building, the hotel’s capacity will increase to 149 rooms. The hotel caters to more long stay clients, with suite (kitchenettes) vs short term 2-3 day holiday clients.
Elevation drawings confirm the 6 storey height is within zoning. A proposed density ratio of 2.12 is higher than the existing transient residential zoning of 1.2 but lower than the Official Community Plan (OCP) standard of 4. A variance from existing zoning density is requested. Having complied with parking requirements, setback variances remain an issue.
The nod to history with the northeast corner wall and the site-line considerations were appreciated. A James Bay resident suggested that hotels need to take responsibility to provide safe off-street areas to accommodate airporter and other bus pickups and drop-offs for clients.
Traffic Calming - Pilot Project: Montreal & Oswego Streets
Jacqueline Weston, Assistant Director, City of Victoria Transportation presented a plan for a traffic calming pilot project on Montreal and Oswego Streets from Dallas Road to Superior Street. The project, in response to ongoing speeding complaints, will occur from May 1 to the end of the 2017 cruise ship season.
Proposed Traffic Calming measures include In-Street Signs, marked crosswalk on Oswego at Simcoe (south side of Simcoe), Speed Display Boards, Monitoring and Enforcement, data collection and reports. Although speed bumps are not planned for this project the city will review the issue. The possibility of the installation of temporary speed bumps was discussed. Residents expressed concern that speed bumps would re-direct traffic onto nearby streets.
Taxi contracts issued by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) contain a clause which allows revocation of Ogden Point permits from taxis in receipt of speeding tickets. Data collection re speed and traffic volumes will be done before, during and after the cruise ship season. A cooperative project of the City, Vic PD, and GVHA, the findings to be reported back to JBNA in the fall, will inform the James Bay transportation plan as part of the 2018 Local Area Plan.
Design Considerations in Seismically Active Victoria
Geoscientist Dr John Gunton gave a detailed slide presentation on design considerations in the seismically-active Victoria area. While some may already have an intimate view of the concept, we may all gain an understanding of 'overdue' if and when the 'big one' shakes our shores. Victoria is long overdue for an earthquake of a magnitude 7.0. The recently discovered Leech River fault which runs south of the island, offshore past Clover Point and James Bay is an additional concern.
An examination of the potential earthquake risk to Victoria and Southern Vancouver Island is discussed at http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/262 and http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/1062 in addition to the article in the April 2017 Beacon.
A number of concerned James Bay residents have requested that the JBNA work with the City to partner in a Conveyance Technical Forum. The forum would examine a seabed route for the conveyance of sewage from Clover Point to the McLoughlin Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. A letter has been forwarded to Mayor Lisa Helps proposing that the JBNA, the CRD Project Team and City of Victoria staff explore relevant technical conveyancing aspects of the project, prior to drilling commencement in June. A draft program for the forum suggests issues, format, and expert participants. The proposed topics to be discussed at the forum include: seismicity, slope stability, environmental permitting, remote sensing, structural geology, and ocean wave and current dynamics,
The alternative seabed pipeline option appears to have many advantages compared with trenching along Dallas Road and tunnelling under the harbour. The proposal would minimize damage to the Dallas Road bluffs, reduce construction time, improve resilience to earthquake damage and protect residents’ quality of life. And that is not to mention the damaging impact this currently proposed project will have on Beacon Hill Park. Apparently the Park has been subject to some 25 applications for projects since its founding in 1882. None of those projects have been approved.
May 1 - The JBNA All-Candidates meeting for the Provincial Election is scheduled at New Horizons on May 1. There will be a Meet-n-Greet at 6:30 with the All-Candidates Forum starting at 7pm.
May 10 - Join your neighbours at 6:30pm on Wednesday, May 10, at James Bay New Horizons on Menzies Street. Come prepared for a full agenda with 2 CALUC proposals (229 Government and 71-75 Montreal), 1 GVHA Memorandum of Understanding (replacement for Barb's Fish'n'Chips), and a Cross-walk proposal (mid-block Erie Street). The schedule of May presentations has not yet been determined; please check the JBNA web-site (http://jbna.org) for the agenda and note the early start time of 6:30pm.