The University of Victoria’s attempts to quell neighbours’ concerns surrounding a proposed parkade have apparently failed.
The university last week released five new design options for extra parking on campus – but the effort wasn’t enough for neighbouring community associations.
“I find it offensive. It’s pretty clear to me they’re manipulating (the information) to get the outcome they want,” said Barbara Raponi, president of the Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association. “The impression I get is (UVic is saying): ‘We consulted with the community associations, and together we came up with these options, please pick one.’ And that’s not the case at all. The options we specifically asked for, they didn’t present.”
UVic’s parkade first came before Saanich council last August, but it was sent back to the drawing board after councillors said it was “too big” and “in the wrong place.”
Little had changed when the school returned to council chambers in the fall – save for a variety of ways to camouflage the same building. Councillors sent UVic away, again. They wanted UVic to seek meaningful public input.
Before last week’s open house, the university’s associate vice-president of campus planning said she was confident the five new options reflected the public’s concerns.
“There are lots of considerations when you consider a parkade. We want to look at the financial implications. And are we providing enough parking for people that’s convenient and accessible, and doesn’t overflow into the community?” said Kristi Simpson.
Raponi said her community association supported an option that saw the whole parkade moved from off McKenzie Avenue and Gabriola Road, to south of Centennial Stadium off McGill Road. That option wasn’t among the five UVic chose.
“It’s cheaper than building multiple parkades, that location is less noticeable because it’s over by the stadium, plus traffic could either go onto to McKenzie or onto Ring Road, so it wouldn’t concentrate all the traffic on one road,” Rapponi said.
Simpson said the university believes the five options achieve a balance of what they heard during public input.
All five options reduce the height of the structure to no higher than 14 metres – 5.5 metres lower than the original proposal. And concerns about the location should be minimized, too. Three of the five options on the table include building one or two parkades elsewhere on campus, in lieu of one large parking garage on McKenzie.
Don Gunn, acting president of the Gordon Head Residents’ Association, said the consensus among his association members was that the original proposal was better than any of these new options.
“We felt that (original) one was logical, the building was safe, it was convenient, it would serve a purpose in a logical spot. It probably wasn’t as aesthetically pleasing as we would’ve liked, but it was OK,” he said.
Of the new options, Gunn said his association most favours keeping the parkade in its original location, with two levels underground. “That said, that does present some problems, in terms of safety. We now that many many people are not terribly keen about going into parkades that are closed in. The beauty of the first one was that it was all open, it was safe and secure parking – and that’s a biggie.”
He said his residents’ association isn’t throwing its support behind some of the other options because they limit future plans to create a more comprehensive “town centre” across Gabriola Road, toward the campus bookstore and transit loop.
“Many of us in Gordon Head, we see the university in a somewhat different light than some of our neighbours do,” Gunn said. “Gordon Head has developed its character, in many ways, as a result of the university. … And we’re suffering from many of the issues that accrue from having a university around us – traffic, parking, conversion of houses to student housing – but those are things we’re prepared to live with and work through.”
The university collected feedback from the public on the five options at three open houses this past week. You can also provide feedback online at uvic.ca/carsa.
The university will consider the input, then return to the community with a detailed design proposal in May. Once a second round of consultation is held, the project will go back before council.
The cost of the project may jump, depending on which option (or combination of options) is selected.
The original parkade came with a $20.1 million pricetag. The five options vary in price, ranging from $17.6 million to $38.5 million.
The parkade first came about as a joint application for a new Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities sports facility, with an attached parking garage.
The community has been fully supportive of the athletics facility, Simpson said, so only the plans for parking have changed.
The five options (compared to original parkade proposal)
Option A – Reduce height by two storeys. Reduce number of parking stalls by 156. Cost: $17.6 million
Option B – Reduce height by two storeys, bury two storeys underground. Reduce number of parking stalls by 13. Cost: $22.6 million
Option C – Reduce height by two storeys, relocate parkade to across Gabriola Road. Increase number of parking stalls by 140. Cost: $24.7 million
Option D – Build two parkades (both reduced by two storeys) – one in original location, one to across Gabriola Road. Increase number of parking stalls by 244. Cost: $38.5 million
Option E – Build two parkades (both reduced by two storeys) – one in original location, one at McGill Road near Centennial Stadium. Increase number of parking stalls by 244. Cost: $38.5 million