James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association

The May 2016 general monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) welcomed a block of attendees concerned about the potential impact of the evening's first presentation upon their neighbourhood.

Development Proposal: 71-75 Montreal St

Previously envisioned as a 24 unit project with six parking stalls, the architect presented the revised proposal for 21 – 500 sq.ft. units on 2 ½ levels with 11 vehicular parking stalls. Bike storage for 14 bicycles is proposed, with additional bike parking under the stairwells for ground level units.

Ground floor units will be accessed via a central muse one half-level below the street, while the main level (steps up from the street) and upper level units share an internal stairway.

10 underground parking stalls will be accessed from the lane at the back of the site with an additional stall at ground level rear corner at Niagara St.

The landscape architect presented a proposed landscaping plan: the north side of the property is to have trees and a native plant garden, with existing trees retained if at all possible. New trees to be planted after construction are partially dependent upon the sidewalk upgrade requirements of the City.

The developer, Leonard Cole, discussed the decision to build 21 units @ 500 sq. ft each compared to 7 townhouses of 1500 sq ft each. Smaller units will meet a lower price point for many trying to gain access to the housing market, although this project is not to be considered affordable housing. His project will appeal to a market segment not currently served in James Bay. Cole compared this proposal to a similar project (only 5 car stalls) with units between 320 sq ft and 500 sq ft., all purchased by women with an age demographic of 20 to 80 years.

While a couple of speakers at the meeting supported the concept of downsizing into smaller living units, others expressed the need for providing accommodation for families and a mix of units. Generally, concerns were expressed at the increased density at this location which would replace 4 units at current zoning. The precedent of vastly increased density may trigger increased land costs in the community. Others speakers expressed concerns about an increased demand for parking in the area. The request for the original project was submitted in April 2015 while this revised version was resubmitted in May 2016.

Shakespeare by the Sea

Artistic Director, Robert Light, presented a proposal to present this year's production at Fisherman’s Wharf Park. The tents would be sited towards the south-east corner of the plateau, leaving a large portion of the plateau available to the general public. The City will determine the anchoring to be used for the tents (either weighted or staked). The theatrical dialogue will not be amplified. The Shakespeare by the Sea Saturday Theatre School will be made available to older students from elementary schools in the community. The possibility of the theatre’s use of Fisherman’s Wharf was well received, with only positive comments of encouragement offered. The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA), while supportive of the performances, has subsequently raised operational concerns about washroom availability, parking and waste removal from the site. Past performances of Shakespeare by the Sea at Holland Point and Clover Point did not create any traffic issues and the organization has routinely taken care of any garbage related to their performances. The entrance discount offered to those walking or cycling to the performances has been popular. Washroom issues are not expected since most attendees are local and other washroom facilities are nearby. 

Coast Guard Roof Replacement:

repair and new landscape plan

The Coast Guard facility, operated by Fisheries & Oceans Canada, is about to get some much-needed maintenance. The grass-covered “green” roof has been failing for a number of years, with leaks; structural deficiencies have prevented access.

Work which began in April 2016 is scheduled for completion by end of June 2016. Existing materials are being removed and repurposed with only 10% going to landfill. An earth-tone river rock roofing will be applied to a new roof membrane. The new roof will not be “open” for the public to walk on although the roof is at grade with the sidewalk. The Coast Guard is considering the display of decommissioned Coast Guard equipment/artifacts on the roof, with corresponding plaque/s to explain items. No decisions on this yet. The new fence (not chain link) will be much like the present one. The Coast Guard are aware of City discussions regarding widening the sidewalk up to the property fence line, but again, no decisions have been reached.

Streets, Walkways and Parks

The City plans to install bridges at Heron Coveas part of harbour pathway. The current proposal is for a bridge width of 3 metres (reduced from 5 metres) with a low profile and a less expensive box-girder design. The bridges will be pedestrian only, with no bike use. A community engagement plan will precede complete detailed designs for the pathway and bridges. The City has committed to community consultation on further development of David Foster Harbour Pathway at a later date.

Local media report that the City will scale back/slow down the Biketoria project. There will be neighbourhood consultation to determine the best routing in James Bay; the staff report noted the issues raised at the March JBNA meeting. Council also approved a staff recommendation to focus the David Foster Pathway on pedestrians and to consult further with neighbourhoods. No details about the consultations are available yet.

Meanwhile, BC Transit is requesting consultation on posted speed limits on arterial corridors or other road design changes that increase transit time and impact transit service levels. Their request to restore the speed limit to 50km/hr on arterial roads was to be received by Council on May 26. The Transit Commission is requesting inclusion of transit priority measures as part of transportation improvement projects in the Official Community Plan to improve the effectiveness of transit.

City Council has not responded to the JBNA request to prohibit overnight camping in parks in James Bay (request made in April 2015). Council has banned camping in small parks in several other neighbourhoods.

Sewage Treatment

The City of Victoria has been seeking input on a sewage treatment site in the city. Results of the 2015 CRD process do not seem to be part of this new City process. The City states that feedback from an April meeting and a survey that closed May 3 will be available in the coming weeks. To date, many Fairfield residents have voiced opposition to a plant at Clover Point. Areas of Beacon Hill Park have been suggested as alternatives – yes – a wildflower meadow with species identified as protected through federal legislation. James Bay residents who were unaware of or unable to participate in the meeting or the survey may wish to communicate directly with Mayor and Council: e-mail - councillors@victoria.ca  Local media report that, with the encouragement of the province, on May 25, the Capital Regional District (CRD) ceded control of the sewage treatment program to a board of experts to be appointed by the CRD.

Join your neighbours for the next JBNA General Meeting at 7: 00 pm on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at James Bay New Horizons, 234 Menzies Street. The meeting will begin with a proposal for a development at 425 Oswego, a small lot development.  The remainder of the topics for the meeting have yet to be finalised. The agenda will be posted on the JBNA web-site within the next week: www.jbna.org