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Neighbourhood Concerns and Solutions Expressed About the Summit at Quadra Village

Letter to the Capital Regional District Board of Directors

March 9, 2015

To: Nils Jensen, Chair, Capital Regional District Board of Directors
CC: CRD Directors-At Large, Robert Lapham, Maurice Rachwalski. Timothy Orr (Island Health), Dr.Brendan Carr. (Island Health), Downtown Blanshard Advisory Board of Directors
Box 9819, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC  V8W 9W3

RE: Impact, Planning and Amenity Issues Regarding the Summit at Quadra Village

The Capital Regional Hospital District and Island Health are coming to build and implement a seniors’ care facility on the former Blanshard Elementary School fields. The zoning is in place that allows for the construction of ‘The Summit’ at Quadra Village (5 storeys of complex seniors’ care and an underground parkade).  Of the 3.5 acres, 32% of the footprint will be occupied by the building while the remaining 68% may include anything from fenced areas, to asphalt driveways to community green space. 
There is significant concern in the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood about the radical shift from neighbourhood school with a gym and open and well-maintained fields, to a regional facility with minimal public access. A lot has changed in the last 11 years, but the contrast between a community gathering place such as a school and a care facility would be a stark one. For years the fields were full of life with children playing, running and laughing. A building housing 320 seniors with complex health issues such as dementia is both a regional priority and is at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to community health.

We have been advised by the proponents that community amenities will only be provided if they can be accommodated on the 955 Hillside site and of direct benefit to the facility. For many, this is very difficult to comprehend when a facility like this was never imagined when the last neighbourhood plan was completed (1996), and life without a vibrant school and grounds was not envisioned or accounted for within the plan.

As a great deal is still to be decided in the next few months, The Summit brings significant implications for the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood that are worth highlighting. These implications are widespread and are of acute concern within the quadrant that is bordered by Blanshard, Hillside, Quadra and Bay Streets. Here are a few of the challenges and possible solutions for community members and project stakeholders to consider:

Parking Pressures
Currently there are a reasonable number of two-hour parking spaces on Kings. These allow car
users to access public resources such as Wark Park, the Quadra Village Community Centre and Citizen’s Counselling, among other mental health services on Kings Street. If a pay parkade is planned for the care facility, there will be significant competition for the free spaces on the street. If these spaces become residential only, how will folks with a legitimate need to drive access the neighbourhood resources? Maintaining the two-hour spaces and providing free parking in the seniors’ facility parkade may begin to address this issue.

Vehicle Safety and Congestion Issues
Currently, a significant amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic flows leisurely along Kings Rd., which is a designated greenway. Families with strollers and children of all ages are at ease because of the lack of vehicular traffic on Kings. The seniors’ facility will bring more traffic and walkers will have to be more vigilant as they step off the curb. If the alleyway becomes the primary access to the seniors’ facility then the corner of Kings and Quadra will become heavily congested due to visitor, employee and service traffic (such as the proposed 16-wheel truck deliveries). Kids and families accessing Wark Park will have to be hyper-vigilant as they approach and leave the play area and gardens.
The Capital Regional District and local residents need to continue to work together to ensure that access to the facility is only from Hillside Avenue. This will require support from the City of Victoria, including necessary bylaw changes. The CRD and Island Health need to consider limiting the size of deliveries so that only smaller trucks are accessing the site.

Noise Pollution
Diligent efforts need to be made to ensure that the sound of construction, fans, machinery, heating/cooling systems and truck deliveries do not overwhelm residents in the vicinity of the development. Adequate insulation and sound barriers need to be put in place.

Skateboarding Dangers
Skateboarding in the vicinity of the proposed development is already a hazardous undertaking. With no accessible asphalt close by, other than the roadway, the likelihood of injury to skateboarders will increase with increased traffic. A paved area within the seniors’ facility complex with access to skateboarders and permission for Quadra Village Community Centre to set up a supervised, portable skate park at set times would be a useful option that would give youth an outlet for activity and decrease the frequency of skateboard/traffic hazards.

Dog Owner Challenges
The loss of the school fields will mean the loss of the unofficial local dog park. Alternatives in close proximity are insufficient.

Nowhere to roam, nowhere to play
The Quadra Village Community Centre was never planned with fields or a gym, as there has always been access to the Blanshard Elementary school grounds and gymnasium. The community has for a long time been able to enjoy the Blanshard fields at will.  Given that everyone in this quadrant of the neighbourhood lives in apartments and town homes and that many households are low income, ready access to free recreational space is crucial.

Solutions
The new seniors’ care development could and should be part of a solution.  One idea would be for the complex to include a large multipurpose room, with a gymnasium floor, to which the public would have access. Creating a system of trails around and through the site would allow for jogging, dog walking and accompanied walks by residents. Picnic tables could be installed and accessed by families and other neighbourhood residents, as well as facility residents and their families. Common green space would allow for spontaneous play by neighbourhood kids. A paved asphalt area with permanent hockey nets and hoops would be a versatile space where the Community Centre could set up a portable, supervised skate park. Such a dynamic environment would be pleasant and interesting for facility residents to look out onto.  Limiting the size of delivery trucks accessing the facility may be necessary to ensure that the site isn't dominated by service roads and large delivery bays. CRHD and Island Health will have to be committed to limiting the use of enclosures and fenced areas for this vision of publicly accessible outdoor space to be realized.
We are encouraging residents to come out to the March 28 Open House. Currently there are concerns that the Community Engagement process is manifesting as more of a communication process.  For example, it seems that plans for the facility will be shared and that by the time the neighbourhood is included at the Open House, the opportunities for feedback that can actually shape the project will be minimal.  Given the large impact of this facility we believe that it is essential that the community can participate in meaningful solution building that includes a wider focus on community health, creating amenities that meet neighbourhood needs (on or off site) and how to mitigate the impact of this development.
Decisions and planning related to this 22.6 million dollar development are crucial to the wellbeing of seniors needing complex care and Hillside-Quadra residents. If a fraction of the budget were given to integrating neighbourhood amenities into the site and facility, then community health would be enhanced. To accomplish this, we implore the CRD Board do right by our children, youth and other neighbourhood residents. We would like the CRD to do all that they can to address our concerns – much as they were prepared to over the proposed sewage treatment plant.  In order to do this we are requesting that an additional 7.5% of the Summit at Quadra Village budget to be earmarked for the development of Hillside-Quadra specific amenities (chosen by the neighbourhood) that are co-located on site at 955 Hillside or integrated close to the facility.  We believe that the Capital Regional District needs to do all it can to ensure that our neighbourhood, children, youth, families and seniors can cope and thrive as it takes on the task of meeting the regional need for complex care for seniors by hosting this new facility.

I look forward to meeting with you to discuss solutions that balance neighbourhood and regional considerations for well being.

Sincerely,

 

Kelly Greenwell, Executive Director
Quadra Village Community Centre
250.388.7696 ext.221
kelly@quadravillagecc.com
www.quadravillagecc.com.