James Bay Neighbourhood Association: Mayor “Thank You”
Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association
Mayor Lisa Helps addressed concerns and issues of James Bay residents at the May 9, 2018, monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) following a brief CALUC meeting.
The CALUC meeting was convened to discuss replacing the residence at 334 Dallas Road with a new 4-bedroom family home which will include 2 secondary rental suites. Current R2 duplex zoning permits construction of the main residence and one additional rental unit, but site specific zoning is required for the second suite. The owner said he would be willing to consider a covenant on the property to ensure that the two secondary suites are maintained as market rate rentals.
The meeting was informed that, as a new house with two rental units, the development would be considered a houseplex. Although houseplexes have apparently been discussed in several zones and generally supported in the Traditional Residential designation in the Official Community Plan (OCP), the concept was new to the JBNA. Emerging in the Fairfield and Gonzales Neighbourhood Plans, the concept supports small-scale multi-family dwellings that look like a single family residence (possibly on a larger lot). It can refer to anything from a four or six-plex to the conversion of larger homes into multiple units. The Mayor later confirmed her expectation that the concept will be incorporated into the zoning bylaws.
This proposal matches the height of newer townhouses on Dallas Road but may be slightly higher than the adjacent building to the east. The two secondary suites (899 sq.ft. and 750 sq.ft.) will be in the lower floor (1/2 below grade) with owner areas occupying the two upper floors (bedrooms on the middle level and living areas on the upper floor). There are two entrances on the driveway side of the house and another from the east side of the building. Floor to ceiling height in the lower floor is planned to be 8ft., main floor - 9ft and upper floor 10ft. The proponent agreed to consider alleviating some height concerns by reducing the height of the top floor to 9ft.
Although height and set-back variances are not being sought, when the City’s Community Meeting Notice was prepared, a variance to the Floor Space Ratio (FSR) became evident. Objections listed by a direct neighbour include: variance for the FSR is too large (an increase of almost two thirds), flat roofed box-like structure relieved only by a curve on the upper side of the design, side entries impact privacy concerns of neighbours and add to noise, lack of a front entry creates a dead zone on the street. The proposal calls for three parking stalls, meeting the requirements of the City’s Schedule C parking, with no variances required. Neighbouring residents expressed concern that this was inadequate given the current demand for parking on Dallas Road.
The proponent will assess and consider information from this meeting and determine how to proceed. He anticipates filing an application to the city within two months.
Mayor Lisa Helps' presentation focused on city issues and initiatives important to James Bay. After discussing related CRD issues, the Mayor opened the floor to respond to residents’ questions and comments.
The Mayor thanked James Bay residents for their cooperation during assembly of the conveyance pipe on Niagara Street and subsequent pipepull. The CRD Team responded to residents' feedback to the best of their ability and held a well-attended BBQ to celebrate the conclusion of the pull and to thank residents for their patience.
The Mayor also thanked the JBNA’s Active Transportation Committee for the Sharing Our Streets report which she believes should be incorporated into the City’s regional transportation plan.
The Mayor discussed an amenity resulting from the wastewater project; creation of a connector path between Fairfield and James Bay through Beacon Hill park. Path construction will begin in the fall.
It is anticipated that construction of the conveyance pipe on Dallas Road will be disruptive for a significant period of time. The Project Team has committed to listen to residents and to do their best to mitigate disruptions. The wastewater conveyance pipe route is designed with details to be finalized. The bike path route (designed to preserve mature Chestnut trees along Dallas Road) will be on the north side of Dallas Road from Douglas Street west.
The Mayor opened the meeting to residents. Concerns were raised about feeling safe in the community. Commenting on the report of a verbal assault in Irving Park, the Mayor agreed that support for victims and a police report of the circumstances would be a more supportive response. Triage teams made up of law enforcement and health care workers meet with people camping in parks to determine what they need, and to work toward finding resolutions for housing and treatment. Although the City does not have teams in every park, a rotational system is showing encouraging success with placement. A projected supportive housing project is intended to stabilize the previously incarcerated (often with mental illness and addiction problems) by supplying 24 months of supportive housing.
The city does not currently have the capacity to duplicate a Vancouver program which provides information on offences, road closures etc. Victoria's neighbourhood Block Watch is intended to provide similar information to neighbourhoods. Terry Healey has been confirmed as the James Bay police liaison. If the City adopts the Sharing our Streets proposals five-corners will also be safer and more pedestrian friendly.
The city is examining an affordable housing strategy. One definition of affordability is requiring no more than 30% of income for housing and 15% for transportation. That would mean a person living in an area with no transportation costs would be able to pay 45% of their income on housing (30% + 15%). The Regional Housing First Program, funded equally by the CRD and BC Housing and the federal government ($30 million each) will begin to meet the needs of local residents. The projects will house a mix of Income Assistance recipients, lower income, and those able to pay market rent within the same building. Those paying higher rents will subsidize those paying lower rents. The project will initially fund a projected 2000 units within the CRD, with the first projects approved for Gorge Road and Salt Spring Island.
Current neighbourhood planning processes indicates that people want to legalize existing secondary suites and garden suites without having to evict tenants. This issue is included in the rental market revitalization report going to Council. Council is also planning to establish a bylaw to bring existing buildings up to standards for safety, beginning with units of four units or more. If there is a secondary suite, property owners should be able to work with the City without triggering evictions. A tenant assistance policy and standards policies coming to Council will assist tenants if an owner is renovating and the tenant has to relocate.
A number of comments were made about the impact of tourism in James Bay and the need to manage tourism. GVHA could be a better neighbour and citizen. An income source from the cruise industry could provide services in James Bay such as cross walks and sidewalks, improvements that would benefit both the neighbourhood and the tourism industry. Eight hour stops for cruise ships, rather than the current four-hour, would reduce traffic congestion and generate more income to the City. Noise, congestion and pollution are becoming more of a problem each year. The Mayor thanked the speaker.
Private function rentals serving alcohol at the Breakwater Barge were raised as a concern; the GVHA should take responsibility for activities on the site. The Mayor committed to getting a schedule of events and a contact number for concerns and complaints.
The Mayor invited residents to come to any of the Mayor’s scheduled Friday noon hour meetings to discuss issues.
Join Us for the next JBNA General Meeting: 7:00 pm, June 13th, 2018, 234 Menzies (New Horizons). The General Meeting agenda is tentative – a possible rezoning for a pre-school near MacDonald Park followed by a City of Victoria presentation and discussion on the proposed Climate Leadership Plan with Jess Dawes, Manager of Energy and Climate Action.
JBNA - Announcements
BC Transit Route:
With the reopening of Niagara Street, BC Transit has massaged schedules. Route #2, weekdays from 7:20am to 8pm, every 15 minutes; weekends 15 minute frequency from 9am to 8pm. Route #3/10 remains at every 30 minutes. Complaints have been received by the JBNA regarding access to bus stops and shelters. JBNA is monitoring concerns and evaluate currently planned improvements before reporting to the City of Victoria.
CRD Wastewater Dallas Conveyance Line:
The CRD team will select the contractor in June, with work projected to start in the fall. Trenching construction will be done by multiple teams; trench sections will be covered and the roadway open during most of the construction. The team intends to remove a couple of mature chestnut trees along Dallas. Invasive elm trees east of Douglas will remain with the bike path going south of the trees onto the bluffs. JBNA will notify of further changes via twitter at https://twitter.com/JBNAVictoria
Irving Park – Tenting & Camping:
Residents have commented on the camping in Irving Park with tents, sleeping bags and tarps present, often till mid-morning and later. Problems and issues should be reported to the VicPD.
The Return of the Barge:
GVHA will be holding Barge events during the 2018 cruise season. The weekly events are to end at 9pm. The Barge will also be rented to third parties for private events (limited to two per month). GVHA commits to requesting that third parties respect the minimum requirements set by the City regrading event permitting. GVHA suggetsed residents call police about noise concerns or problems with departing customers.
JBNA’s Active Transportation Committee (ATC):
ATC has released its “Sharing Our Streets” report. The report sets out nine recommendations, which include designating James Bay as an active travel demonstration neighbourhood. In addition to suggesting a network of cycling lanes, a key recommendation is the sharing of dedicated lanes for bicycles and motorized mobility aids such as scooters. As the oldest community on Vancouver Island, James Bay has a legacy of narrow streets and narrower sidewalks. The ambitious and visionary approach to people moving within James Bay leans heavily on the results of the Getting Around James Bay study. Streets should be accessible and safe for all to use, and the evolving demographic suggests a growing need to accommodate those using mobility aids as well as those who walk, run, and cycle. JBNA ATC members worked for almost 2 years to ensure the focus and continuity necessary to complete the studies. The ATC recommends that the City integrate the report’s findings and the “Three Solutions” as part of the Local Area Plan process scheduled for 2019.
Capital Park Fitness Center
Capital Park Fitness Center will be available for public use. Residents will be notified about an open house at the Fitness Center once confirmed.