Appreciate the discussion--while needing to point out that there are several problems with the design of this project on a very challenging lot.
- For some reason, the bus stop is moved to a location adjacent to the building and that was cited at the CALUC as the reason why access to the building was shifted to Cook Street in the revised plan.
- Access to the building is an issue that has an effect on cut-through traffic and parking on streets near the development as well as quite far--service and personal vehicles will need to navigate through currently low traffic, low speed residential streets to navigate access from Cook Street.
- There is a community initiative in the area proceeding for two years now to create a woonerf adaptation in which the already designated People Priority Greenway on Kings Road sees LESS not more traffic and that traffic is to be local in favour of retaining the current 22.7 median speed--not cut-through or non-local where higher speeds are predictable.
- It looks (from the first set of plans) as if two parking spaces would be lost in order to provide the preferred access from both Hillside Ave and Cook Street. Leaving the bus stop where it is now about 2-3 bus lengths along Hillside is preferred. That seems a good trade-off, but does not address the fact that parking is provided for less than half the residents and only one space is available for service vehicles. It is a very short stroll through the Cridge Centre parking lot to Kings Road which can anticipate unwanted vehicles driving and parking there. Again, a community initiative is working to create a people-first place--not a traffic corridor or parking lot.
Some comments suggest that the neighbourhood is against density. That is not true.
In fact, the creation of a green space promenade through Oaklands is intended to provide respite for residents and those who come to the area to stroll under a canopy of Garry Oaks in an increasingly dense community.
Plan specific observations:
- The revised plan does include stepped back upper floors in consideration of the effect of light blocking--a very good thing.
- The site does not permit the kind of set-backs seen along Hillside avenue which mitigate higher density with green plantings and, in at least two places, provide opportunity for placemaking. It seems very difficult to establish a gateway to Oaklands that reflects the mixed residential use character as distinct from the disappointing Hillside Ave aspect from Blanshard to Cook.
- Plans show an abundance of trees which are not actually on the site, but influence consideration and are not as placed in reality.
- The new plan to eliminate what was to be rental housing and provide condos for purchase is predicated on acceptance of the "affordable housing" component, i.e. 15 very small units. No new build can provide "affordable" accommodation in the current economic climate. As briefly commented upon by the developer at the March 25 CALUC, the cost of these units is born by purchasers of the other units. This clearly increases those costs and contributes to Victoria's already high cost of living.
- A quality of life consideration is that the touted "public space" is limited to residents of the new build : a rather small entertainment area which, in the initial plan, is immediately outside of two bedrooms. Not smart. Design is everything. Still, I appreciate that this is an extremely challenging site.
Official Community Plan considerations:
- The City is in the process of updating plans for neighbourhoods and Oaklands' is upcoming. The community has interests beyond 100m from any site as currently provided for in relation to developments.
- My own interest in this is to ensure that Oaklands accommodates a multi-generational, diverse people-first ethic with a far higher standard of consideration of infrastructure projects—public and private—than historically seen. If we get the plan right, we should not need to entertain the kind and volume of variances often seen. This will aid developers as well as the community.
- The City currently favours large developers over small, and large owners over small. World-wide there is growing understanding of the economic and social value of engaging small, local owners who use property assets as a means to increase housing in the spirit of community with the economic benefit of a) starting out with a mortgage helper b) aging in place (hugely significant as many people lack the pensions granted to decision makers and functionaries) and c) retaining renovation and ongoing, directly local expenditures as opposed to feeding remote investors.
- If we want residents to be a part of evolving Victoria, rather than resisting that, we need a more honest and transparent engagement, one that is consistent and sincerely applied. That is too often not the case and it is hard to blame Victorian’s for getting in the way under such circumstances.
My two (+) cents.