James Bay Neighbourhood Association: Planning Our Future

Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association

June 14th, 2017 – an evening of important presentations at the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) General Meeting.

Fisherman’s Wharf

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) and the JBNA requires a Community Meeting be convened to consult on developments at Fisherman’s Wharf; it is part of the process whereby community concerns are forwarded to the City for consideration during its review of a development permit application. Under those terms, The Fish Store on Fisherman’s Wharf presented a Development Permit application for expansion of their restaurant. Designer, JC Scott, and owners, Peter and Colleen Greg, propose adding a covered seating area on the wharf with seating under a tent, similar to the one at Barb’s Fish & Chips. Customer service will be from a shipping container inside the tent. A liquor license application is in process. Due to a large rock exposed at high tide, the existing fish store will move further west on the dock. A two-year covenant between the city and GVHA will see additional temporary toilets relocated to Fisherman’s Wharf in the near future.

CALUC: 350 Sylvia Street

The owner of this licensed day care is requesting zoning to allow the addition of toilet facility to the garage structure on the property. The current zoning is R2 with a legal non-conforming triplex. The owners plan to operate a licensed daycare three days a week from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, which is permitted under the current zoning. They plan to construct a ½ bath (sink and toilet) in the existing garage, which is being modified for children’s indoor play activities. The ½ bath will permit supervision of toilet use while the rest of the children are playing. An adjustment to the zoning is required, as are a new water and sewer service. Most JBNA residents spoke in favour of the proposal, although the potential of converting the garage to future residential use was noted. Concerns about the daycare being on a non-thru street were also voiced by two nearby residents.

Official Community Plan (OCP) & Density: James Bay Challenges and Opportunities

Marg Gardiner and Tim VanAlstine discussed some of the challenges ahead for James Bay. The BC Local Government Act requires cities to have an OCP to guide land use and policy related to building form, character and design. The City began developing the OCP in 2010 and approved it in July 2012. Victoria's OCP also considers land use, environmental and social policies, housing and development, transportation, parks, environment, infrastructure, economy, arts and culture, food systems, emergency measures and more. The OCP focuses on local village centres, with downtown as an urban core. The OCP is not set-in-stone. Council has approved changes since 2012 and more are inevitable.

An objective of the OCP is the creation of a sustainable city by 2041 – a city with 20,000 more residents than in 2011. The 20,000 population growth target is the objective that drives the approval of some current and proposed developments. Half of the growth is planned for the Downtown Core Area Plan (DCAP) area and further north and west. Approximately 8,000 of planned population growth is to occur near large urban village areas. Only 2,000 of the growth is to occur in the more traditional residential areas of the City. The OCP is silent on the anticipated growth in specific neighbourhoods as well as on what kinds of housing and the proportion of rental or owned options.

In addition to the OCP and DCAP, there is the Harbour Plan which involves our harbour foreshore lands, and the James Bay Neighbourhood Plan. Other plans associated with land use in neighbourhoods include the pathway, parks, greenways etc. The DCAP extends into James Bay, and includes Capital Park, and Qlot, the remainder of the Victoria Accord. As many of the currently projected housing units in James Bay are within the DCAP area, the JBNA has been monitoring the impact of DCAP developments.

Each neighbourhood is described within the revised Local Area Plans (LAP), or neighbourhood plans, which fit into the OCP framework. The unique LAPs will include growth targets for designated areas within each neighbourhood, reflecting resident values and priorities. Starting in 2018, James Bay will begin the LAP process. Burnside-Gorge has completed a plan, and Fairfield-Gonzales is underway. James Bay has had the opportunity to learn from each of these processes. The current James Bay Neighbourhood Plan, negotiated in 1993, is available on the city’s website.

James Bay is experiencing rapid change in development and land use with major developments and large projects. The 2016 census indicates that the population of James Bay has grown by 760 in the past 5 years. With a high proportion of rental accommodation, seniors housing, and affordable/social housing, and high density James Bay meets or exceeds the City’s objectives for diversity of housing. We anticipate little increased density in the low density residential areas of James Bay over the next 30 years, with increased density within 200 meters of the urban village area along Menzies. The table in the OCP which describes the built-out form of developments, suggests a six-storey height cap at/near the large urban villages, although a recent development in Cook Street Village was capped at 5 storeys. Housing within a large urban village is up to six storeys, generally with main floor commercial. Within a small urban village, housing is up to three storeys, generally with main floor commercial and mixed-use.

Many of the four storey rental housing west of Menzies and east of Oswego falls within the urban village 200m zone. Areas outside the 200m zone could also see increased density. Density increases when the existing rental buildings near the end of their lifespans are replaced, as new units are smaller than the ones they replace.

The OCP also identifies special areas – development permit and heritage conservation areas which are especially important to James Bay as much of the land mass falls within the permit areas. Currently staff tend to finalize decisions for developments in the development permit areas without public input or hearings once master plans and zoning are in place. 

Transportation within the OCP focuses on resident and commuter transportation. Little attention is paid to tourist transportation. The JBNA Active Transportation Committee has completed a study, “Getting Around James Bay” and is working on a “Shared Streets” project. The Douglas Street Visioning project was also undertaken in preparation for the planning process. JBNA provided information, statistics and survey results with BC Transit to assist in Transit’s planning. Transit’s proposal for James Bay is anticipated at the July or August JBNA General Meeting.

With a 30 year build out, it will be difficult for the community to oversee development resulting from the Ogden Point Masterplan. As the LAP and GVHA’s Ogden Point Master Plan are developed over the next two years, transportation will need to be fully discussed.

The JBNA is advocating for a Good Neighbour Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding with GVHA. 

Currently parking throughout James Bay is inconsistent. City planners, with the aid of a consultant, have been assessing parking needs. Parking is a consistent challenge when new developments are proposed in our neighbourhood. The JBNA recently learned that the City’s new “Schedule C” will serve as guideline only for parking requirements. While there are no changes for parking requirements for single family dwellings and duplexes, and secondary and garden suites, townhouses parking is reduced from 1.5 spaces to 1 space per unit.

Parking requirements for condominiums and apartments is related to the unit size and location of the complex.

There are challenges and opportunities ahead as we start the process of developing a made in James Bay LAP.

Join your neighbours at the JAMES BAY NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSOCIATION July monthly meeting from 7:00pm – 9:00pm on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 at James Bay New Horizons – 234 Menzies Street.

Tentative agenda items include Capital Park Update by Rob Jawl, Jawl properties and Transit in James Bay by James Wadsworth, BC Transit.

A Simple Cup of Coffee

A Simple Cup of Coffee

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