Neighbourhood associations want to explore options for Victoria’s former Blanshard Elementary site

Residents want more community focus for CRD-owned land at 950 Kings Rd.

A new library, community centre or childcare centre could be coming to the Hillside-Quadra area – at least that’s the hope of local neighbourhood associations.

The land parcel at 950 Kings Rd., which hosts the former Blanshard Elementary School building, is the focus of an upcoming community rally organized by the Hillside-Quadra (HQ) Collective and supported by the the North Park Neighborhood Association (NPNA) and the Hillside-Quadra Neighborhood Association.

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In 2015 the Capital Regional District purchased the plot from the Greater Victoria School District as a buffer in the construction of the neighbouring site at 955 Kings Rd. There, the Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD) is building The Summit, a 320-unit residential care facility for seniors living with dementia. In the meantime, the CRHD has been using the land as a staging area for the construction site, and parking space for project contractors. Upon purchase, the CRHD committed to initiating public engagement to decide on the land’s future use, but local residents are concerned about losing green space.

“We see it as a park being lost,” said Allison Ashcroft, board member of the NPNA. “It’s a green space in part, and also the gym and services that they’re able to offer to the Quadra Village Community Centre (QVCC), which is at full capacity.”

Currently, the school’s gymnasium is being subleased by the City to the Quadra Village Community Centre for events and activities, including cultural and athletic programs, while the second floor is being leased to the Vancouver Island School of Art. Their leases are up in 2021.

“We’ve been told that there’s basically a plan to not extend the leases for ourselves or the Vancouver Island School of Art,” said Kelly Greenwell, executive director at the QVCC. “But, we’ve been actively engaging with the city council about securing some kind of ongoing expanded community services centre.”

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Ashcroft argued that the fastest-growing neighbourhoods in the city are North Park, Harris Green and Hillside-Quadra and that the neighbourhood demographics are the least wealthy and least served parts of the city.

“We need to make the best use of public assets,” Ashcroft said. “Particularly for a marginalized community.”

Now that construction on The Summit is wrapping up – with an anticipated opening date of 2020 – other uses of 950 Kings Rd. are being explored.

“Some of the ideas I’ve heard include proposals for an allotment garden, a library branch or proposals for child care spaces,” said Hillside-Quadra liaison Ben Isitt. “The idea of a park with a community centre located in it has been the most popular.”

Isitt noted that expanding the Quadra Village Community Centre is one of the items on the City’s Strategic Plan and that adding more community resources to the area would be an opportunity for alignment between the City and the CRHD.

The CRD told Black Press that at this point there are no official plans for the site.

The rally will happen on Sunday, Feb. 17 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 950 Kings Rd.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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