Neglect gets rewarded

It's official, City Council has voted four to three in favour of tearing down a house that has stood on Dallas Road for a hundred years.

The Mayor, Lisa Helps voted in favour of destroying one of the first houses on Dallas Road in order to allow development of a two unit condo. The Council also agreed to change to the rules regarding structure size to land area ratios in order to accommodate the project. This means less green space and more condo to look at.

If we allow destruction of these old houses then we ruin the very reason why we want to live in James Bay. Talk to anyone in James Bay about why they live here and invariably the answer is the flavour and beauty of the area. That flavour and beauty comes from the architecture and the preservation of our heritage buildings. Tourists and visitors do not come for walking tours of condo units; they come to admire our past and the quaintness of our community.

Anyone who has walked along Dallas Road near Ogden Point has seen the transformation of the two houses that were brought by barge and placed on the corner of Dock Street Those houses show that saving our unique architecture can and should be done to preserve the fabric of James Bay.

The house at 90/92 Dallas Road is clearly in need of some TLC. It’s been neglected for decades. Any repairs must be done by the current tenant, that is me. I cannot replace the plywood porch with a better one, nor do I have a ladder tall enough to fix the roof. These are not jobs expected of a renter, why isn't the home owner taking care of the property? Because neglect gets rewarded, and now a house that should have heritage designation becomes another victim of urbanization.

Cara Hilditch

 

GVHA Responds

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the editorial Invest in Ogden Point Redevelopment Project? (December 2016) by V. Adams.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has recently concluded almost two years of engagement with the community, the city, and harbour stakeholders on the Ogden Point Master Plan. All of this consultation has informed the development of the final draft of the plan, now submitted to the City of Victoria for planning department input. Leaving aside information that an outside observer simply can’t know (such as whether or not private marine transport companies have expressed interest in investing in Ogden Point, or whether or not GVHA has carried out economic feasibility and impact studies) there are several erroneous assumptions in this editorial.

The federal government divested harbour properties to GVHA, a not-for-profit governed by representatives of six agencies, two First Nations, and four at-large community directors, for the express purpose of sustainably managing the harbour. This includes responsible investment and development, which supports the ongoing sustainability of all GVHA properties.

It’s true that the long-term development of Ogden Point is key to this goal, but not at the expense of the environmental, health, or safety risks outlined in V. Adams’ editorial. Given that the Ogden Point site has been home to commercial marine industries for more than 100 years, GVHA is well aware of the potential for contamination in the soil and seabed. Like any other commercial landowner considering development, GVHA is required to comply with Ministry of Environment testing and regulations around contamination and no development at Ogden Point will proceed without Ministry clearance.

The Ogden Point Master Plan looks forward 30 years into the future, and has been designed in recognition of potentially rapid climate change, sea rise, and seismic activity. Residents can access all design elements planned to mitigate these potential effects – the final draft of the plan is available to the public at gvha.ca.

Aside from the fact that GVHA pays more than $1M annually in taxes, it is disingenuous of V. Adams to imply that the potential development at Ogden Point should somehow be outside the scope of overall development in the City of Victoria. All of us, residents and commercial operations alike, pay taxes to build and support city infrastructure including road improvements, sewage lines, electrical grids, and traffic measures. That said, GVHA has never approached the future development of Ogden Point as strictly for commercial interests, including cruise lines.

In 2016, we hosted a months-long interactive opportunity for the public to provide input into the plan, and it brought in great ideas. One of the key stated goals of this project is to create a community hub that will enhance services, public space, and cultural and educational experiences on this site. Our vision is to create a vibrant, welcoming gateway to the more than 500,000 tourists who visit Victoria through Ogden Point every year, and to provide enhanced access to services and public and commercial space for the community of James Bay and the citizens of Victoria.

The conversation on this is not closed. As we work through the next steps of rezoning, CALUC, and city council approvals, and develop detailed designs and plans, GVHA welcomes ongoing input from the community.

Ian Robertson

CEO, Greater Victoria Harbour Authority