The University of Victoria, for the third time in 14 months, attempted Monday to garner Saanich council’s support to build a parkade on campus.
Councillors tabled the plans twice before, in August and October of last year, because they felt the community wasn’t properly consulted. Both meetings lasted several hours and drew streams of angered residents voicing concerns about the parkade’s height, location and expected traffic impacts.
“It’s been a good lesson for helping UVic understand that with such a substantial development, it effects the greater community,” said Coun. Paul Gerrard.
“I think UVic should’ve heard the first time (council tabled the project) that the consultation process was not seen to be transparent. My impression is that they were rushing the process, and there’s never a good resolution when that happens.”
A more thorough consultation process that spanned this winter and spring, conducted by H.B. Lanarc, resulted in UVic submitting a parkade design to Saanich that looks drastically different than anything council’s seen before.
While the initial parking garage was planned to be 503 stalls over seven levels, the new plan proposes 332 stalls over five levels, one of which will be buried.
The estimated $13.4-million parkade is part of a larger sports facility project, the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities slated for the corner of McKenzie Avenue and Gabriola Road.
Kristi Simpson, associate vice-president responsible for campus planning, says the university is “looking forward to showing council what we’ve done and how the project has changed.
“We did a much better job about communicating with the community about what the project is, why we think it’s important to the campus and community, and soliciting feedback on what the impacts might be and making adjustments based on that feedback,” she said. “I think we’ve accomplished that, and that’s demonstrated through the support we’ve gotten from our community associations.”
This will be Coun. Nichola Wade’s first opportunity to weigh in on the parkade project, as she was the only new face elected to council in last November’s municipal election.
“The plan for me is to review what’s gone (to council) before to get as much background on the project as I can,” she said.
Despite not having been on council, Wade was well aware of the reasons council took issue with the parkade twice before.
“With a project of this nature you’re never going to have everybody thrilled with the actual outcome. But the process by which we reach it is critical,” she said.
While the process was more thorough this time around, opposition to the project still exists. Council’s agenda package included a number of letters from area residents concerned about the project’s size, location and traffic impacts.
“I have lived in (the Cadboro Bay) neighbourhood most of my life and it is only in the last few years that UVic seems to be a poor neighbour having little regard for their neighbours,” wrote Karen Lightbody in a letter to Saanich.
Saanich council was expected to discuss the development variance permit at Monday night’s committee of the whole meeting. Check out saanichnews.com for updates.