James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association

The August 2016 general monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA) welcomed neighbours concerned about the impact of the evening's first presentation upon their area.

Development Proposal

Larry Cecco of Keay Cecco Architecture Ltd and Deb Baker of The Norwood Group presented a proposal for the redevelopment of 337 St. James Street,one of two adjacent buildings. The two building complex (335 and 337 St. James Street) occupies an L-shaped lot between Oswego, St. James Streets, and Beckley Avenue. 335 faces Oswego and St. James Streets, while 337 occupy the foot of the 'L' between St. James Street and Beckley Avenue. A row of private residences on Rendall Street backs onto the 337 property.

The 337 building is fated for demolition because of structural problems. The proposal will see construction of a new complex; two six-story linear structures divided by a 28 foot wide central courtyard 'street' with adjacent 3-storey units and underground parking. The proposal will contain 62 rental units (an increase of 41 units) including seven 2-bedroom units, forty-four 1-bedroom units with den, nine 1- bedroom units and 2 studio units. The proposed design is within the Official Community Plan (OCP) for density/height and zoning limits. The proposed density is 1.58, an increase from the current density of 1.2, but less than the existing permitted zoning of 1.6.

At an August 2 meeting with Cecco, Baker, and members of the JBNA executive, Beckley Street residents raised concerns regarding: parking, density, height, shadowing; construction noise/disruptions, and potential loss of trees.

At the August JBNA monthly meeting Cecco discussed these community concerns. Reports on structure and traffic (overdue and not received in time for the meeting) will be included in the city file submission. The proposal was originally presented as an application for rezoning. As a result of community concerns over parking variances, the proponent will now provide full parking for the building, with no variances. The project is now a development project not requiring rezoning.

Other concerns and comments include:

Massing of structure:

- too dense for a sensitive, tightly confined traffic area, with a school zone.

- precedent with a six-storey building between two residential zones, with the highest existing nearby buildings at 4 storeys

- the 3 floor along Beckley is still overbearing and 3-storey plus structures may decrease property values.

- the sheer massing of the building is a major concern: the inner courtyard pushes the building out to the edges of the site, (A: An initial goal was to provide buffers and privacy to reduce overlooks on adjacent Randall properties.)

Parking and access:

- more traffic will be on St. James if the Beckley access is closed

- appreciate that garbage removal will now be from Oswego,

- the existing driveway off Oswego will be utilized for underground parking access

- underground parking for 182 vehicles is proposed (70/70/42) on 2.5 levels for 134 living units, plus two electric vehicles. Cycle parking will total 134 spaces, associated with individual units, on the catwalks.

- Current parking is 0.56, well below the current zoning requirement of 1.3. The developer has no control over who parks on the street.

Relocation of tenants:

Generous relocation terms have been developed for tenants, some choosing to leave and four relocated to 335 St James. Other concerned tenants remain in place, but have been assured of first-come, first-serve status on the new units. Assistance with moving expenses and an increase to a four-month notice period are either confirmed or under consideration. Devon, which manages 5,000 units, has made the relocation of current St. James residents a priority

Other comments:

- disruption - a minimum of 18 months of construction compounded by difficult egress with trucks on small streets in the area,

- allotment garden plots and an open herb garden are planned while the Beckley frontage will be retained as a green space with trees.

- site coverage of 43.5% is deceiving because it includes the parking structure, balconies and the courtyard. The City planner will ultimately determine the proposed blended site coverage.

- the project will be fast-tracked because it is rental housing. Approval is unlikely before January, 2017 with building permits later.

Ogden Point Master Plan:

JBNA continues to engage with Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) consultant, Stantec, on the master plan. On July 28 JBNA participated in a small workshop hosted by Stantec with 12 residents in attendance. This was the first meeting involving both consultant and GVHA with JBNA and invited residents regarding particulars or intentions or impacts of the Ogden Point Functions and Facilities Plan and the anticipated rezoning request. CASINO?Victoria has been selected to host a capital region casino. Casino operators will be searching for a site and negotiating/partnering with landowners of significant properties. JBNA has asked GVHA to make a public statement that a casino development will not be permitted at Ogden Point. No announcement has been received.


The JBNA Board met with BC Transit staff to map out a process for community input to improve transit routing and service in James Bay. The BC Transit 'Information' bus is expected to visit James Bay in September while a survey of resident needs becomes available. The objective is to complete a review and needs assessment by February, 2017 with implementation of any changes in the fall of 2017. - The second bus-pedestrian collision within a year occurred on Douglas Street in James Bay. On Tuesday, July 26, two pedestrians walking to work were hit by a tour bus in the Douglas-Belleville intersection. Last fall a BC transit bus hit two pedestrians in the Douglas-Superior intersection. Lighted crosswalk installation is scheduled to begin on August 29 on Douglas from Michigan to Bridge.


On July 18, JBNA representatives along with others from adjoining neighbourhoods attended a focus group meeting with City of Victoria staff and a consultant regarding the Parks & Open Spaces MasterPlan review. Everyone present pressed the City for robust local‚ neighbourhood consultation to inform the parks plan. Replacement trees will be planted where dead trees were removed on St Lawrence. Hibachi sized propane BBQs are approved for use in City Parks but they must be on a table or protective material (such as plywood) over the grass. An informal picnic (i.e. family, etc) does not require a permit, but anything more formal/organized requires a permit. An overabundance of rosemary and sage is available for harvest at Fisherman's Wharf Park Herb Garden. Residents are invited to take scissors and clip.

James Bay Square Newstand

The JBNA has contacted CAPREIT, the management of James Bay Square, to request that the news-stands be returned to the covered breezeway between Thrifty Foods and the fast-food areas of the complex (Pizza/Starbucks). Residents who wish to add their voice to the request may contact Mr. Tom Schwartz at 416-861-9404, or via mail at Suite 401, 11 Church St, Toronto, M5E 1W1 or at t.schwartz@capreit.net.

Join Us

The next JBNA General Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 234 Menzies Street.

BC Transit and JBNA will introduce two surveys which will examine how residents travel within and beyond James Bay. The main presentation will be a Public Consultation for a proposal to rezone Harbour Towers. The proposal will be for over 200 residential units.