June 11 PLUC Early Thoughts

It looks like it will be a quick PLUC meeting tomorrow as the agenda is quite short. Which is good because the Council meeting is going to be a long one with lots of Public Hearings and that micro-housing issue on the the Council agenda. So what do we have in the morning at the Planning and Land Use Committee?

An Accelerated Approach to Local Area Planning

This short 3 page report for PLUC consideration tomorrow is the latest in a series of confusing and pseudo inspirational steps by Victoria Council to appease local neighbourhood associations who have grown increasingly grumpy with how their local area plans are so out of date (e.g., 20-30 years old). As they should be.

The report for PLUC tomorrow provides a calendar of proposed meetings between neighbourhood associations, City Planners, staff from the City’s Neighbourhoods team and local Council representatives. The purpose of these meetings will be to discuss what Neighbourhood associations want to focus on in local area planning and how they want to be involved – within the purview of large urban villages and transportation corridors that is.

Of note is that this neighbourhoods team consists of 3 people:

  • Mike Hill
  • Kimberley Stratford
  • Gary Pemberton

As noted in the report tomorrow, this outreach to understand local area planning ambitions is necessary for addressing a specific 2015 Action listed under Objective # 3 in their new Strategic Plan:

  • Commence three new urban village centre plans upon completion of BurnsideGorge/Douglas Street Corridor Plan.

As well as accomplishing the 2016 Outcome of:

  • Local Area Planning focused on urban villages and transportation corridors.
History of Local Area Planning in Victoria

Updating ancient Local Area Plans was supposed to be a project that came out of the 2012 Official Community Plan – however implementation of the whole plan has been a stretched out half assed affair (see video of a June 19th PLUC meeting here) and so there’s been a fair bit of back and forth at the new Council table this spring through their strategic planning and budgeting process in an effort to appease angry neighbourhood associations, particularly in relation to local area planning.

This all culminated in a decision at an April 9th GPC meeting where Council voted (see video here) to support staff recommendations for Local Area Planning Budget Adjustments thereby committing themselves to spending an additional $200,000 in 2015  (see bottom of page 2) to satisfy the requirement for “commencing” three additional “Urban Village Plans” in 2015 (see DPA 5 Large Urban Villages).

From that time onwards there’s been some confusion about whether the focus was on local area planning (like Burnside Gorge) or just Large Urban Villages like Cook street but this now seems to be resolved. And I assume that neighbourhood associations are going to be excited about this olive branch of an engagement opportunity being offered through the report tomorrow. It will be interesting to see where it ends up.

I note that my group, the Vic West Community Association has been identified as the last in a series of meetings. Which I suppose should be good because by then City staff and Council will have had the experience of dealing with the other groups!

Based on my experience observing Council and my experience in a neighbourhood association mind you, I’m going to guess that nothing much of substance can come out of a single meeting (e.g., the meetings with neighbourhood associations) that they’ve proposed, particularly when the point of the meeting is how to update something that is 30 years old.

Which is to say, I imagine that a series of meetings will actually be required with each group and perhaps this will be exactly what the subsequent staff report (to come back in October) will be about? My ultimate prediction is that the 2015 Action of “commencing” three new plans will be satisfied by a subsequent decision to identify which villages will be planned for in 2016 and I wouldn’t be surprised if these three are the three who the City deems most agreeable. So let’s all be polite!

1143 Grant Street – DP with Variances

This a proposal to construct a deck and install glass doors on the rear side of the existing small lot house. The deck will be approximately 11.2m2 and located slightly above the existing grade and an existing window on the ground floor of the rear elevation will be replaced with doors for access to the deck. The variance is required to accommodate a request for a reduced rear yard setback to accommodate the deck.

Seems straight forward.

Only thing to note is that this site seems to have a specific spot zone (R1-S22) and this would have necessitated prior rezoning and public hearing process. Now the applicant is going through pretty much the whole thing again in order to build a a small deck. Seems tedious to me.

524 -526 Michigan Street Heritage Designation

According to the staff report on these two houses, there is quite the history (ha!) to the administrative process that the owners have undertaken to date to achieve the desired Heritage Designation. It is noted that these houses will be moved and preserved as part of the Capital Park Development.

524-526 Michigan Street

A Google Maps picture for context for the two houses! The application itself is for designation of the houses as Municipal Heritage Sites.

1713 Government Street Heritage Designation

According to information submitted by the applicant which forms part of the staff report and request for Heritage Designation:

The Yen Wo Society Building at 1713 Government Street is a tall, Edwardian-era building on a narrow lot, three storeys in height plus a ‘cheater’ mezzanine that displays Classical influences as well as typical Chinese features such as a prominent flagpole and recessed balconies on upper floors. At the periphery of Victoria’s Chinatown National Historic Site, it is the original location of the Yen Wo Society and the Tarn Kung Temple, which still exist on the top floor. The structure is contiguous with the Lung Kong Kung Shaw & the First Chinese Empire Reform Association Building at 1715-1717/4 Government Street.

1713 Government Street

The Heritage Designation Application itself is for designation of the property (including original interior elements identified in the Statement of Significance) as a Municipal Heritage Site.



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