Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association
A lively discussion regarding traffic related issues was the primary focus at the regular monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) on August 14, 2019.
CALUC: 580-582 Niagara Street
This property, currently zoned as a duplex, was converted to a four-plex by the owner 11 years ago. All renovations were done to meet four-plex guidelines. The owner has no plans for changes to the house and plans to retain the current long term tenants. Parking for six vehicles and bike storage are located towards the rear of the property.
This application for a site specific rezoning will bring the property into compliance as a four-plex. Aware that this is a four-plex, a City covenant on the property ensures continued rental. Once the property is in compliance with existing use, the covenant will be removed. The owner has agreed to sign an agreement with the City to retain four rental units for ten years. If the property is not able to be brought into compliance through this rezoning the owner will turn it into a two-unit strata, with a loss of two long term tenancies.
Traffic & Parking in James Bay:
Three representatives from the City made presentations relating to traffic and parking in James Bay: Sarah Webb, Manager Transportation, Sustainable Transportation, Planning & Development, Ismo Husu, Parking Services, and Ross Kenny, Manager, Transportation, Operations & Construction.
Sarah Webb discussed recent StatsCan figures for Victoria and James Bay. Do you realize that the number of adults over age 65 in Victoria increased by 23% between 2011 and 2016? The majority of these seniors have mobility challenges. The number of children 14 and younger increased by 9%.
Webb discussed a new city survey https://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/residents/transportation/go-victoria.html which asks residents about mobility and transportation values including traffic calming, sidewalks, parking, cycling, and traffic signals. Please give your thoughtful attention to this city initiative. If your survey answers are limited to James Bay please make that evident in your survey response.
Ross Kenny, Traffic Calming:
A new city wide traffic calming program, to be initiated fall 2019, will be data driven, consistent and transparent. After hiring needed staff, the City will complete plans and initiate calming measures, using the right tools for the greatest impact.
In response to a number of dramatic and consistent comments by residents regarding high traffic volumes and excessive speeds on residential streets in James Bay, Kenny noted that traffic calming is nuanced. A solution applied to one street doesn’t necessarily work on another. Redirecting traffic has an impact on adjacent side streets. City staff discussed traffic concerns with GVHA, and collected traffic data on big cruise ship days. Kenny noted that priority is given to schools, parks, playgrounds, and community centres where there are high concentrations of people, but that vehicle volumes and speed data is also considered. He confirmed that Montreal Street is under consideration for a speed hump as confirmed a four-way stop at Simcoe and Oswego.
A Ladysmith Street resident pointed out that the well-worn flexible signs (fingers) on Montreal Street probably saved lives and their removal is a false economy. As soon as they were removed, vehicles resumed excessive speeding down Montreal, ignoring the four-way stop at Montreal and Simcoe, an area with two parks, a daycare and tennis courts. Residents sought a time line for re-installation of the flexible sign fingers to Oswego and Montreal, with possible speed humps prior to the 2020 cruise ship season.
Residents raised the need for four-way stops and posted speed limits of 30 km all around James Bay, monitoring of excessive speeds and penalties for irresponsible drivers.
Concerns were expressed regarding sidewalks populated with utility poles, signs, hydrants, etc. that make it difficult for people with mobility aids to travel. (New or upgraded sidewalks are planned for Montreal to San Jose, Dock, Montreal, Oswego, Boyd and Menzies). It was suggested that vegetation encroaching on sidewalks should be a responsibility of the City rather than requiring a complaint from residents.
The City's concept of an AAA (all ages and abilities) active transportation concept was introduced to us in May 2019. A resident suggested that, as the resident population in James Bay is considerably older than the population of the rest of Victoria, this is an ideal community in which to introduce the program.
Another resident expressed concern about cruise ships originating at Ogden Point and the resulting increase to traffic in James Bay and the city. When Ogden Point becomes a home port, morning arrivals and afternoon departures, shuttling between the international airport on the peninsula and Ogden Point, will increase taxi traffic volumes throughout Greater Victoria. The GVHA has announced its plan to become a home port, but has not yet approached the City. The burden of cruise ship activity already unfairly affects the quality of life of residents in James Bay. A long term resident observed that the environment has steadily deteriorated. Now there is waste recycling at Ogden Point with vehicles traveling through the neighbourhood.
Ismo Husu, Parking Services:
Husu discussed parking: removal of parking spots for tourists on Belleville, Superior, Menzies and Quebec, creation of 88 spots and keeping tour bus parking in a specified area.
Sixty two-hour parking spots in the Legislative precinct were changed to metered parking to prevent people (government workers) from using those spots all day. The paid parking is in effect until 4:00pm. A resident observed that paid parking in residential areas is just a level of aggravation. The Chair noted that the Downtown Core Area Plan puts the boundary between downtown and the residential neighbourhood of James Bay at Quebec Street.
Residents expressed concern about buses parking on residential streets when they used to park at Ogden Point or Mayfair. (Buses are parking on Quebec and Menzies because that is where they buses drop off the majority of their passengers to the hotels.)
A permit parking system in James Bay could cost $200 per resident per year as enforcement and staffing costs would be greater than the current complaint-based system. Encouraging the use of car shares is a long term plan for the parking situation in James Bay.
Sara Webb summarized the mobility issues and what she heard from residents at the meeting. The City has to get its house in order, to identify what new mobility means to the City and how everyone can move comfortably through the City. The City needs new by-laws and policies. The staff attending tonight’s meeting want to have focused conversations, to find solutions. They recognize that James Bay is all ages and abilities. Staff is looking at developing north/south and east/west corridors in James Bay. City staff is committed to making decisions and investments in James Bay to improve the quality of life for all.
Check out our new website at jbna.org and note the new email firstname.lastname@example.org. The 2020 Cruise Ship Schedule (on the website) indicates an increase of approximately 8% more passengers over 2019.
City staff are testing the Dallas Road balustrade for lead and other potential contaminants.
Join us on September 11, 2019 for our regularly scheduled general meeting at James Bay New Horizons.