City to spend $510,000 on Pandora Green improvements

Homeless advocates say money misspent

Traffic passes Pandora Green as council decides on an improvement plan for the boulevard.

Traffic passes Pandora Green as council decides on an improvement plan for the boulevard.

City council examined lower-cost options for beautifying Victoria’s most notorious boulevard, but opted to stick with the original design despite its inflated price tag.

Citing the Good Neighbour Agreement, Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said area residents have waited a long time for improvements.

The project includes adding a sidewalk to the boulevard, restore the damaged grass and adding trees. It also includes building a lit plaza in front of the Royal Conservatory of Music to accommodate concert crowds and host outdoor events.

The improvements to the 900 block of Pandora Avenue were promised before the construction of Our Place, drop-in centre for the poor and homeless.

Back then, in 2007, the project was pegged at $250,000.

When the project was tendered in 2010, however, four bids came back all exceeding the city’s budget.

To keep costs down, city staff concluded city crews, rather than contractors, could do the work with minor adjustments for $510,000. Staff also examined ways to reduce the scope of the work. Using asphalt through the plaza could save $40,000, and foregoing the sidewalk replacement in front of the conservatory could save an additional $120,000.

City council declined these cost-saving measures.

Coun. Philippe Lucas, however, pondered whether the money could be better spent as a grant to Our Place.

The non-profit has recently announced it is due to run out of funds for its breakfast  program by the end of the month.

“We have to look at these improvements in a very holistic way,” said Lucas. The introduction of the breakfast program last year had a “great impact” in the North Park neighbourhood, he said.

The Victoria Coalition Against Poverty also criticized the decision.

“We think this expenditure is not only a waste of public funds, but an explicit attempt to eliminate people living in poverty from public view”, said VCAP spokesperson Jody Franklin.

The homeless who frequently hang out on the boulevard were not consulted about the design, she added. “The people we spoke with in our research wanted restrooms.”

Council considered adding washrooms in 2010 before passing a bylaw banning overnight camping on the boulevard.

Construction of the Pandora Green improvements are targeted to begin in spring. Staff will report back on the feasibility of a mid-block crosswalk.

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Elaine Kirwin in her Expedia Cruises office talks about the future of travel. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Sidney travel agency charts course through pandemic

Owner of Expedia Cruises in Sidney expects smooth sailing ahead once travel restrictions lift

Oak Bay Rotary Club member Lorna Curtis takes over as District Governor of Rotary District 5020 on July 1. (Courtesy Lorna Curtis)
Former Oak Bay recreation director goes international with Rotary

Lorna Curtis takes over as district governor on July 1

Police are asking opponents of logging near Port Renfrew not to involve their children following additional arrests Saturday. (Black Press Media File)
Police arrest eight protesters including two minors near Port Renfrew Saturday

RCMP ask parents not to involve their children in Fairy Creek logging protests

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read