JBNA: Pedestrian Ways
Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association
Presentations on the Pemberton Trail and the ongoing activities of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority were the focus of the February 2019 monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA). Members also took a moment to congratulate and thank City of Victoria Sanitation staff for the efficient February 13 garbage collection, despite snow and ice on James Bay streets.
Ken Milbrath gave an illustrated presentation on the Pemberton Trail, a proposal he has spear-headed for many years. The proposed trail, envisioned as a route from downtown Victoria, through Rockland into Oak Bay, makes use of both public and private lands. The route proceeds east along Meares Street from Quadra in Victoria, up to Brighton Avenue in Oak Bay, and then on to Anderson Hill. While these streets are public lands, the proposed part of the trail is on private land in the Rockland area where there is no east-west through streets. This walking/cycling trail parallels Fort Street and Oak Bay Avenue in a quiet urban environment, allowing pedestrians to exercise away from vehicle traffic fumes. Milbrath currently serves both as Chair of the Pemberton Trail Task Force and President of the Vancouver Island Trail Association.
Pemberton Trail was named after Joseph Despard Pemberton, Surveyor General of Victoria from 1859 to 1864. The trail is marked and known as Centennial Trail in Oak Bay, recognizing the 100th anniversary of that community. The trail connects to the Vancouver Island Trail which starts at the Anderson Hill Trailhead (in Oak Bay) and ends at Cape Scott (North Island) 800km. A possible future extension would see the trail head south and loop back to downtown Victoria via a waterfront pedestrian cycle path.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority Update:
Ian Robertson, CEO reported on the current status of the GVHA and discussed some of the challenges ahead.
The Inner Harbour Causeway, built in 1973, a deteriorating concrete structure, no longer meets crowd level and safety connection needs. Modifications are limited as it is a designated heritage structure. The immediate need is to reaffix precast blocks with failing connections, a major hazard. Cost: +/- $25 million within the next 15 to 20 years. Ships Point: expected replacement cost is +/- $24 million within next 10 to 15 years.
2019 Cruise & Operations Update: 264 ships representing 15 cruise lines will call in 2019, starting April 16, with a total of approximately 700,000 passengers anticipated this season. Concern was expressed by a James Bay resident at how the increased cruise ship dockings overwhelm our small village. Robertson confirmed that at some point GVHA will need a 4th berth, but GVHA believes it should not be located at Ogden Point.
GVHA has a stated commitment to a fully electric shuttle bus fleet by 2022. All buses on the terminal will be at the level of EPA standard of 2010 or newer (bus engine age) for the 2019 fleet. Mindful of increased transportation requirements, twenty-two double decker buses will reduce the number of buses moving through James Bay roadways in 2019.
Robertson states the air monitoring station has not had any elevated readings in more than two years and So2 emissions remain well below recommended safe levels.
Emissions & Terminal Operations: Synergy Enterprises has been hired to conduct a carbon audit of the Ogden Point Terminal. GVHA is aware that many believe shore power capabilities would improve air quality; however there is currently insufficient capacity to provide shore power. The carbon audit will assist with the analysis required. A graving dock worker with understanding of the amount of power required for a cruise ship, commented that it is unlikely that BC Hydro will be able to provide the shore power required. A resident who is a dockyard worker commented that ships never shut off the engines and that shore power is unlikely given ship operations’ requirements while ships are in port. The Chair commented that previous studies have ruled shore power impractical at the current time and that the proposal should be put to rest rather than raising the hopes of residents.
Wayfinding & Transportation: In 2018, 30% of the cruise passengers who disembarked walked to/from the terminal to downtown. In 2019 a comprehensive plan is in place to encourage passengers to explore the city by foot. GVHA is developing a Wi-fi app landing page with detailed walking maps. Onboard shipside communication with crew and improved wayfinding on the terminal including ground stamping and placemaking will encourage walking.
Breakwater Barge: Started in 2016, GVHA acknowledges that noise from the Barge in 2017 was unacceptable. In 2018 they repositioned the stage (facing out to sea) and shortened the hours of operation. They plan to maintain these changes into the future. Residents confirmed these changes were significant improvements.
Ogden Point - Current Status: Request for proposals for a development partnership, has been narrowed down to three for 2018- 2019.
Consultation with the community will occur in summer/fall 2019. The Updated Master Plan & supporting reports will be completed in 2019. Master plan submission for approval to City of Victoria are slated for late 2019 or early 2020.
Short term plans under consideration are to develop a sustainable infrastructure plan. Identification of investment is required. A temporary pedestrian ramp is planned from Pier B to Dallas Rd to see how it works for a future pedestrian focused community gateway. There will be space allocated for a First Nations’ Cultural Village, and improvements to terminal building B in 2019.
Contacts: Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @gvicharbour, office phone – 250-383-8300. A GVHA after hours phone number 1-800-883-7079 is now staffed from 5:00 pm to 8:30 am.
A resident asked why GVHA refuses to enter a good neighbour agreement with James Bay. The CEO replied that GVHA is following the process set out by the City and will do as the City requires. The JBNA chairperson stated that GVHA does not require direction from the city and that the GVHA is prepared to only meet City requirements, not go beyond them. The GVHA can enter into a good neighbour agreement with JBNA if it chooses to do so, similar to the Memo of Agreement for Fishermans Wharf. Councillor Laurel Collins, Council Liaison for James Bay and City of Victoria representative on the GVHA Board, committed to entertain a conversation with Council regarding a good neighbour agreement.
Fishermans Wharf residents expressed frustration and concern regarding required infrastructure upgrades to the Wharf. Float homes have only 30amp power, propane, and water in pipes which froze this winter. Residents have requested security gates, closed between 10pm and 7am to allow a quiet time and prevent people accessing their homes. Residents believe GVHA needs to be more people focused at Fishermans Wharf acknowledging its status as a tourist attraction. Other resident frustrations include lack of access to the GVHA Board, with no higher authority to go to in order to get action, all indicative of GVHA lack of respect for the live-a-board residents.
A Fishermans Wharf resident who has followed GVHA’s engagement with the community, believes there should be a representative from the community on the GVHA Board. This was supported by those in attendance including both CEO Robertson and Councillor Collins.
Robertson replied that GVHA has not done a good enough job explaining the budget and why it is allocated to certain areas. He will take the issue back to Board.
A resident commented that the GVHA needs to keep the neighbourhood informed. The working harbour of 15 years ago now seems to be a backdrop for tourism. This neighbourhood values a working marine harbour. The CEO replied that GVHA remains committed to a working harbour. Ogden Point will have marine related industries and facilities for the fishing fleet to unload their catch at Fishermans Wharf are maintained.
Another resident commented that the GVHA presence is overwhelming. In essence, the resident said cruise ships were polluting his home. He cannot escape. He sees, hears, feels and tastes the effect of cruise ships. Departures are timed for the calmest time of the evening when pollution settles over the neighbourhood and into our homes. Scrubbers exacerbate the pollution problem by reducing large particles into smaller more lethal ones that are absorbed directly into our systems.
Councillor Report: Councillor Collins committed to bring community concerns to the next GVHA Board meeting (community representation on the GVHA Board, pollution concerns, and ship-generated traffic overwhelming the community). She also reported that Council is looking into hiring additional staff for traffic, adding traffic calming measures, and improved crosswalks. Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Month: Join us on March 13 at 7:00 at 234 Menzies Street (New Horizons)