What Price? Densification

Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association

At the May 10, 2017 monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) representatives of Barb’s Fish’n’Chips presented a request for a Development Permit to replace the current Barb’s food preparation facility on Fisherman's Wharf. A successful application will result in the installation of a modular building (constructed in Quebec, and shipped to Vancouver) at Fisherman’s Wharf in early 2018.

The current facility is inefficient and has reached the end of its lifecycle. An additional food order area and a new pick-up area on the west side of the new facility are expected to mitigate current congestion and facilitate traffic flow on the wharf. The full height second storey will provide staff with a rest area and locker storage where personal belongings can be stored.

The prime motivation for this project is not to increase business but to relieve congestion and to replace an outdated building. Increased efficiencies in the new facility are expected to reduce waiting times after placing food orders, thus reducing client congestion.

Temporary washrooms (gender neutral) are to be installed this month at Fisherman’s Wharf. New permanent facilities are to be developed within the next 2 years.

CALUC: 229 Government Street

The property at 229 Government Street is a single family dwelling with an outside entrance to the second floor suite, rented on a long term basis. A legal duplex on an oversized lot is the result of the addition created almost two years ago. The current proposal is to construct a garage along the property line at the NE rear corner of the property at the end of an existing driveway, with a second story suite over the garage for long term rental. The somewhat unique nature of the proposed project means it is likely to require site specific residential zoning. Current zoning is R-2.

While planning was at an early stage, the proponents discussed their plans with neighbours and made changes to reduce concerns regarding a preliminary height estimate of 24 feet. Height is the major zoning variance as the existing zoning garage height is 12 feet and the revised proposed structure is planned to be 17 feet. Opportunities to further reduce the height were discussed, such as lowering the floor of the garage. Changes made to accommodate adjacent neighbour privacy concerns includes piano windows on the north side of the 2nd floor suite.

Near-by residents, many adjacent on St Andrews Street, object to the loss of trees and green space and additional density on the site. Others expressed concern at the loss of light to their gardens as a result of 10 feet of building above the existing hedge. The noise and emissions from the number of cars on the property were also a concern.

A shadow study, requested at the pre-meeting, was to have been included in the evening’s presentation. The completed study is to be forwarded to the Chair for forwarding by email to those who request it.

Concerns were raised about flooding as many surrounding properties have water issues. The applicant has installed curtain drains around the 229 Government property to deal with water run-off from adjacent properties.

Cross-Walk proposal: mid-block Erie Street

Nick Armstrong from City of Victoria Transportation presented plans for the installation of a new cross-walk. The installation is in response to community concerns about vehicular speeds, lack of pedestrian signal controls, tour bus parking on the park-side of the road and access to Fisherman's Wharf Park. Pedestrian seating, bike parking, place-making, and accommodation for children are all being considered in the design for an improved pedestrian connection to the Park at a new crosswalk, mid-block on Erie Street. Every effort is being made to retain existing trees and to address parking.

Design CALUC: 71-75 Montreal

Local developer, Leonard Cole, returned to the community for a second CALUC meeting with a revised proposal for his project at 71-75 Montreal Street. Victoria City Council’s Committee of the Whole requested that the proponent rethink the earlier project with an eye to larger units. Earlier issues included lack of parking and green space, density, and size of units given the expectation of, and need for, family housing in close proximity to the school.

The proposal for the two side-by-side R-2 zoned lots has remained similar in appearance, size and footprint, with the number of units being reduced from 24 to 21 to 19 and now 14 units. The 14 proposed units range from small studio to 3-bedroom strata apartments. Eleven parking stalls are proposed.

The presentation described this project as an attempt to provide attainable units in response to the high cost of land with the two buildings, designed to look like four and 14 units which offer an accessible lift. The proposed height is greater than neighbouring houses but is the same height as White Eagle Hall. A proposed set-back of eight feet from the sidewalks is similar to the set-backs of walk-ups in New York and Montreal. The two-storey plus building will be built with wood framing; no sprinkler system and no special seismic considerations are required by the building code.

Near-by residents expressed their concern at the proposed density with the lack of parking, noting that events at local sporting fields often make parking difficult in the neighbourhood. When questioned about how the 11 proposed parking spaces would be allocated between the 14 proposed units, the proponent responded 'Parking will be included at sale stage of units – 3 BR units will have priority'. A JBNA request for a parking study of the area, to be done on an event day, has not yet been accomplished.

Residents also noted site lines and the streetscape, commenting that the proposal does not respect the established setbacks and green space. Several mature Hawthorne trees are at risk.
A few participants from outside the 100 meter notification area (including downtown) spoke in favour of the project. The developer has declined to place a covenant on the property to prevent future AirBnB or short term rentals which are a major concern in Victoria.

Current zoning would permit single family units at the proposed height with 3 parking spots per house. The current proposal is for 8800 sq ft of living space vs 6600 sq ft of living space in single family homes. The developer has suggested that he could install four housekeeping units per building and develop at a later date.

Wastewater (Sewage) Update

A brochure from the CRD wastewater Project team detailing the intentions of the project including timelines has been mailed to James Bay residents. Following are additional notes as they relate to the outstanding issues:

The CRD Wastewater Project Board took only a few minutes on May 2 to turn away the CRD Management Committee and City of Victoria request to consider a change order that would lower the wastewater odour cap to 2 OU from 5 OU.

The JBNA request to the City to partner in a Conveyance Technical Forum for the Clover to McLoughlin conveyance system received even less discussion as the request was accepted as correspondence, without motion or discussion.


Health Impact Assessment: JBNA awaits a response from the city to the request for a Health Impact Assessment to be done.


Wastewater Conveyance: With the Harbour Crossing (drilling from James Bay Anglers to McLaughlin Point) underway, JBNA has requested a review of conveyance options for Clover to Ogden.


Niagara Pipe Assembly: Project Team staff stated they have hired staff to go door to door along Niagara to assure residents that Niagara will not be as badly affected as the Team stated in January. The visits were delayed until after the election.


Noise: JBNA continues to advocate for the drill noise activity to be limited to 65 dBA rather than the planned 75dBA. The noise is unlike normal construction as the drill will be continuous during the 12 hour/day drill.


City of Victoria Transportation:
Please be aware of the mid-street traffic calming bollards and speed boards on Montreal and Oswego Streets near Simcoe Street.


Heron Cove Bridges: City Council has postponed the Heron Cove Bridges project indefinitely because of cost escalation.


GVHA: Two to four food vendors on Fisherman’s Wharf have made application for liquor licenses. One is now serving alcohol with food.

Next Month

Join your neighbours for the next JBNA General Meeting: at 7:00 pm on Wednesday, June 14th, 2017, at 234 Menzies. A review of land use proposals and the Official Community Plan are on the agenda.

Due to the incompleteness of materials presented for the 71-75 Montreal Street development proposal at the May General Meeting, JBNA has invited the developer to provide the missing materials and to present once again at the June 14 General Meeting. At the deadline time for the June Beacon, a response had not been received.

Two other proposals will be reviewed at the June meeting, one being a float for an expansion of "The Fish Store" at Fisherman's Wharf and the other washroom installation in a garage to serve a home day-care at 350 Sylvia.

Tim VanAlstine and Marg Gardiner will review the Official Community Plan and its impact on the James Bay community. Time permitting, there may be a brief presentation on the Wastewater Clover-to-Ogden conveyance routing.

Cougar spotted on Menzies Street in James Bay

Cougar spotted on Menzies Street in James Bay

MLA Report: Working for Change