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Summit at Quadra Village Could Radically Alter Neighbour

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Coun. Ben Isitt said there's no denying the new care beds are good for the region.   Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist

Local-resident needs must be part of the mix as the Summit, a new 322-bed seniors facility, is developed on the former Blanshard Elementary School property in the Hillside-Quadra area, Victoria councillors say.

Neighbours usually have their say on a development when it is going through the rezoning process. In this case, the site, at 950 Kings Rd., is already zoned and city councillors want to ensure the $89-million development is a good fit.

Concerns have already been raised. The Quadra Village Community Centre and Downtown Blanshard Community Association are worried about a number of issues, including loss of greenspace as school fields are replaced with large facilities, noise pollution, shading, traffic and parking, and overall neighbourhood health.

“Now that the Capital Regional Hospital District owns the full seven acres of the former Blanshard Elementary School, neighbourhood residents are cognizant and concerned that the entire neighbourhood is on the precipice of a radical shift, with no guarantees that we will shape it or see useful neighbourhood access and function over the next 75 to 100 years,” Kelly Greenwell, executive director of the community centre, wrote in a letter to council.

Councillors directed staff to work with Capital Regional District Health, Island Health and community associations to see if the health planning can be brought into alignment with neighbourhood planning

“It’s essentially directing staff to take a proactive approach,” said Coun. Ben Isitt, council liaison to the neighbourhood. “Even though there’s no rezoning required, this is a very substantial facility being built on former school grounds.” The aim is to work with the neighbourhood, he said.

There’s no denying the new care beds are good for the region, Isitt said. “But when we look on the impacts on the neighbourhood, I think there are legitimate concerns. Residents of Hillside/Quadra and their neighbourhood associations have felt that they haven’t been effectively engaged to ensure the integration of this proposed facility into the neighbourhood,” Isitt said.

Adjacent housing, formerly Blanshard Court and now called Evergreen Terrace, which is owned by B.C. Housing, should be considered in planning the precinct.

“Some of that housing is going to be getting a little tired. Are there opportunities for maybe any densification at the northern end of that parcel? Could that maybe take some development pressure off what happens at 950 Kings Rd.?” Isitt said.

Isitt said the hospital district is open to leasing the former school building for community use and there may be opportunities for gardening on some of the greenspace.

The city has asked staff how development cost charges might be used to ensure neighbourhood amenities are integrated into the plan.

Capital Regional District spokesman Andy Orr said in an email a community process is well underway, but noted the CRD bought property designated for the use and a rezoning is not needed.

“We are happy to work with the city and, for sure, we are working with the neighbourhood, but we are trying to build a regional health facility,” the email said.

The public process began 18 months ago. It has included online engagement, and surveys.

The hospital district bought the former Blanshard Elementary School property from the Greater Victoria School District in 2015 for $5.8 million, consolidating the land with the 1.4-hectare property at 955 Hillside it had bought two years earlier in order to build a 322-unit seniors residential care facility, to be known as the Summit at Quadra Village.

The proposed facility at 955 Hillside Ave. is for seniors who need complex care. It will replace two facilities: Oak Bay Lodge, built in 1970, on Cadboro Bay Road in Oak Bay, which has 247 publicly subsidized units, and the 73-unit Mount Tolmie Hospital, built in 1964, on Richmond Road in Saanich.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

- See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/residents-fear-seniors-home-will...