James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Submitted by the James Bay Neighbourhood Association

Two CALUC proposals were introduced and discussed at the October 2016 general monthly meeting of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association (JBNA). Although both proposals make provision for rental accommodation, community reaction to them was very different.

CALUC: 672 Niagara - Niagara Mews

Richard Iredale, of the Iredale Group presented a proposal to convert the house at 672 Niagara Street into a fourplex. The existing house would be lifted four feet permitting the building of a new lower floor. With an addition to the north side, four rental units would be created. The site is currently zoned for apartments (R3-2). The proposal conforms to the zoning with respect to use, setbacks, height, site coverage, floor-area-ratio, unit size, and number of units. The proposed height is considerably below the height permitted by the R3-2 zone. The triangular site is “small” at 551 m2, “non-conforming” to the required 920 m2 minimum site size, presenting set-back challenges. This request via CALUC is to consider “relaxing” of the lot size.

Although City staff had suggested that three parking spots would be sufficient, the JBNA Development Review Committee (DRC) at a pre-meeting, suggested that the tenants may each have a vehicle, even if not used regularly. Three parking spots would mean that one tenant would be parking on Niagara or St Andrews. The site could accommodate a fourth parking stall without compromising the large tree in the north part of the lot.

Comments from nearby residents were generally supportive of the project, although some concern about shadowing was expressed. A Shadow Study will be done and shared with residents.

CALUC: 121 Menzies Street

A proposal for this property was initially presented at the April 8 2015 JBNA meeting.

Originally constructed in 1906 as a single family home with R-2 zoning, restoration and renovations commenced in 1992. Restoration work included; house raised, windows/doors replaced, painting, roof and gutters. Interior changes included the creation of seven light housekeeping suites with seven kitchenettes, and four common washrooms. The building was given an occupancy permit for seven LHK suites. Soon thereafter, the owner completed additional renovations, adding five extra suites to the building and converting a garage to stand-alone accommodation. Only one parking space is on the site. Although the current proposal has no plans to provide additional parking, based on a recent parking study, the owner provides a secured area for bikes.

Occupancy was increased from the permitted seven LHK suites to thecurrent 13 or14 rental suites without City permits or approval. Recently, after consultations with the City, the proponent has reworked the interior configuration and is now proposing eleven units.

At the pre-meetings contentious items discussed and remaining include the precedents set: the message to other landowners who could make similar unapproved renovations and/or that this level of density and type of renovation is permitted and/or encouraged in the community.

The parking shortfall is an ongoing frustration to residents searching for street parking near 5-corners.

Comments from residents were generally unsympathetic to the proposal which they viewed as insulting to homeowners who follow the system and create suites legitimately. The owner, who has flaunted regulations and enjoyed 24 years of revenue from illegal suites, now wants to profit from the sale of a non-code building which defies zoning requirements. There are only seven tenants currently in residence. The building could be restored to the terms of the covenant, seven light-housekeeping suites with no individual bathrooms, without displacing tenants.

2016 Cruise Ship Traffic Volumes in James Bay

Brian Scarfe of the JBNA Quality of Life Committee presented his analysis of James Bay traffic volume data provided by the City of Victoria. Daily average traffic volumes were provided for several streets. The traffic volume impact of cruise-ship calls, both on an hourly basis and on a per cruise ship call basis, was highlighted. Apart from the impact of some classification changes over time, cruise ship-related traffic volumes have been quite consistent over the years, with around 1,100 additional vehicle movements on Dallas Road, both north and east of Ogden Point, on three cruise ship evenings. 

Scarfe provided some analysis of the manner in which the cruise-ship schedule could be altered so that evening ships both arrived and departed earlier. This would be a win-win improvement from a triple bottom line perspective. $38 million (or $170,000 per cruise ship call) is the best estimate of the local economic impact of a cruise ship season with 225 calls, not the exaggerated $100 million number quoted by Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) and the Victoria Cruise Industry Alliance.

Community Concerns:

A member of the Friends of Fisherman’s Wharf and resident at the wharf raised concerns about the bridge across Heron Cove which has been proposed by City. Concerns are focussed on possible environmental impact on otters, birds, fish, other sea life. Issues include:

- “mid-section support for the bridge might disturb the sea-bed and raise pollutants

- shadowing of the 3m bridge on the water/sea-bed

- terraced timber sundecks and stairs to the rocks might encourage people to enter the mud-flats which could disturb sea-life.”

On September 20 Transport Canada advised that an environmental assessment will be completed before the City can proceed with the plan (approved by City in May 2016).

Friends of Fisherman’s Wharf web-page with links:

GETTING AROUND JAMES BAY

This survey, designed to capture information about resident's travel habits within James Bay, is the first step in creating a streets and sidewalks use plan for James Bay to present to the City. The survey will close soon. If you have not yet done so, please complete the survey at  http://bit.ly/2cEcNEQ

BC Transit changes ahead

On Saturday, October 15, residents gathered at the James Bay Community School Centre for a BC Transit workshop. The workshop was designed to identify resident needs and aspirations for a revised BC Transit routing of buses to better serve our community while lesssening Transit impacts. Discussions focused on bus amenities, connections beyond James Bay (destinations), and routing within James Bay.

BC Transit will be completing its proposal in the weeks ahead and hosting Open House events early in 2017 to obtain feedback. The proposal will be presented at either the December 14 or January 11 JBNA General Meeting.

Laurel Point Walkway

Transport Canada is investigating pollutant levels in the soil along part of the walkway by Laurel Point Inn. This area was a former BAPCO paint factory site at a time when waste was dumped directly in to the foreshore area. (The BAPCO paint factory being created by William Pendray, who died at the plant in 1913.)

Excavation and drilling has involved a large area which has been fenced off. The work will involve the installation of monitoring wells to assist in groundwater and soil vapour sampling.

Work will continue until the end of November. Pedestrians will be routed around the work-site whenever it is safe to do so during this period.

November 9 General Meeting:7: 00 pm, 234 Menzies Street

Although the November agenda has not been finalised, the meeting will have a community discussion about the impacts of GVHA activities, and the responsiveness to impacts on the community, with a focus on the Ogden Point MasterPlan. The latest version of the proposed layout, dated October 4, 2016, had significant changes from the versions seen over the past year. The discussion is intended to be free flowing.

In the months ahead, several small development proposals are expected in addition to the GVHA Ogden Point MasterPlan. Other projects coming forward will include BC Transit, Vision Victoria (Wayfinding), Belleville Terminal changes, and the Library branch. Please check the JBNA web-site at the beginning of each month to see the agenda for the upcoming meeting - .