JBNA: Search & Rescue

James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association

The Canada Coast Guard and Department of Fisheries and Oceans presented an update on the new Search and Rescue Centre planned for James Bay at the September 12, 2018 monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA). The presentation was preceded by an intense CALUC discussion.

A CALUC (Community Association Land Use Committee) meeting was convened to consider a rezoning application for 38 South Turner Street. The proposal is to lift the existing building to add a 3rd floor, with three 2 bedroom and two 3 bedroom rental units. The number of suites (5) is within zoning. The ground level will be accessible. Electrical will be replaced and the building brought up to municipal building code. The project is requesting a development permit to the current R49 zoning with a height variance to 22.9 meters and rezoning. The Chair explained that the JBNA records and provides community comments from the CALUC meeting to the City. The JBNA will also take advantage of other opportunities to comment on the proposal to the City.

Current tenants will have an opportunity to reapply for tenancy although proposed rents will reflect the work that goes into the upgrade. The house is not designated heritage, but the redevelopment aims to retain existing character by including heritage features on the exterior.

Concerns were raised about the renoviction of existing families, drastic change to the character of street scape, questionable benefit to the community replacing five existing affordable suites with five upgraded suites, displacing long-term tenants into an unstable market with limited prospects, loss of charm and heritage character along a tourist route with walking and horse drawn carriages. Concerns were expressed at the possible creation of incentive for other landlords to evict tenants. The immediately adjacent resident at 42 South Turner observed that the proposed third floor will take existing light from the south side of their property, specifically from the affordable secondary suite which has three windows facing south.

A resident opined that the project (currently strata) appears to be a condominium development, with no guarantee that the units will be available as rental. Councilor Lucas clarified that Council can place a covenant on the property to make it rental, but it has to be put to Council by request of either the property owner or Victoria residents. Council would not initiate such action.

The Chair summarized to the proponent that the comments indicate he would be encouraged to reconsider the proposal and the impact on the existing tenants. The Chair provided background on what CALUC process is and how the JBNA conveys the information heard at the CALUC meeting to the City of Victoria. Those who have views about proposal were encouraged to write to Mayor and Council.

Search and Rescue:

Canada Coast Guard and Department of Fisheries and Oceans were out in force to share information on the new Search and Rescue Centre at the Coast Guard Station. Presenting were Joanne McNish, Regional Manager; Steve Brame, Facility Manager; Randy Burgin, Project Manager; and Denis Taylor, Officer in Charge of the Search and Rescue Station. Rob Halliday, Architect was also available to comment and answer questions.

Earlier this year the Federal Government announced the Oceans Protection Plan to protect Canada's oceans. New ships have been commissioned and four new lifeguard stations approved - Hartley Bay, Tahsis, Port Renfrew and Victoria – much needed growth after 2½ decades of declining budgets. An interim Search and Rescue (SAR) Station, housing search and rescue vessels, opened at Huron Street on June 6, 2018. The Victoria SAR Station, which covers the coastal waters from Bamfield to Ganges, has responded to 30 calls since opening in June 2018. Residents are welcome to come and tour the facility.

The current Coast Guard building in James Bay was built in the 1960’s. The new permanent Station will be located on the site of the old equipment yard, next to the James Bay Anglers, facing Dallas Road. Construction timelines: tendering in December 2018 with completion by fall 2019. The 75,000 sq. ft. building over two floors will house SAR’s crews 24/7. It will also be utilized as a community gathering centre in the event of a natural disaster. Essential wiring and electrical is located on the second floor: the building will be fine for a small tsunami, but a large one will flood the basement.

LAP Preparation Gathering: An estimated 65-70 people dropped into the September 8 Local Area Plan (LAP) Preparation Gathering hosted by the JBNA at the library. Feedback from participants will be compiled and distributed at a later date. The consistent message was 'we love our neighbourhood'.

Comments were clustered in the following areas:

  • Menzies Street/5 Corners/Urban Village: 40 comments. 39 wanting to keep a small urban village. Max 3 to 4 storeys. Menzies to be more pedestrian friendly. Desire for shared spaces on boulevards etc.

  • Bikes: 8 comments (2 no more bike lanes/6 more bike lanes)

  • Walking and sidewalks: 13 comments. Most relate to desire to get rid of utility poles and to make sidewalks wider/bigger

  • Keeping it Green: 13 comments about need for trees, more parks, maintain parks, improve parks

  • Density: 15 comments

  • Other: 7 comments ranging from cruise ships to dog runs.

We repeatedly heard that residents want to be part of planning for the community. Aside from concerns about cars at five-corners, residents love the village centre/urban centre. Words like charming, human scale, unique were used to tell us about the importance of retaining what we have on Menzies. JBNA plans to do another drop in sometime in spring 2019. Several people left contact info and asked to be kept informed of any future planning meetings, informal or otherwise so they could participate.

Announcements/Correspondence:

On October 3, the JBNA is hosting an all candidates meeting for the municipal election at the James Bay Community School 140 Oswego Street. The meeting begins at 5:30 to meet candidates followed by questions to those seeking the position of mayor. The meeting will conclude at 8:30. We are looking for volunteers to assist with the set up.

CRD will be hosting an open house session about Dallas Road construction at the Eidelweiss Club, 108 Niagara Street on Tuesday, September 25 anytime from 5:00 to 8:00 pm and again on Wednesday September 26 anytime from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

Next Month – Join us Wednesday October 10 from 7-9 p.m. at 234 Menzies Street for a CALUC meeting on 561-565 Toronto Street and a presentation on existing and upcoming city programs and opportunities for neighbourhoods.

Year End Tax Planning

Photos: Dreaming of Victoria Skies

Photos: Dreaming of Victoria Skies