Tag Archives: major centre

Creating transportation options in large developments

Kicking the car habit
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Saanich is getting serious about changing the municipality’s current car culture.

Last week, council started the process to create a policy to ensure alternative transportation funding is expected anytime a developer wants a parking variance for a multi-family residential unit in the municipality.

“We want to try to maximize the potential of alternative transportation because (developers are) trying to reduce the amount of parking required, and we want people to be encouraged to move from the default position of always using a vehicle,” said Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the planning, traffic and economic development committee.

“At this point, where we’re asking developers for just a ballpark amount of money (usually $1,000 per unit), saying it can be put towards transit passes, buying bikes or scooters – I think it just waters it down and we run the risk of having money put into a pot that doesn’t contribute to alternative transportation.”

Coun. Dean Murdock said developments will be judged individually so those in areas well-served by transit and bike routes are given more stringent requirements.

“There are advantages here for council, land-use planners, developers and ultimately the residents, (that will come from) locating these new developments with considerable density in major centres on major corridors,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is contribute to traffic in those corridors. So incentives need to be created for people to take public transit, or cycle or walk to their destination.”

Council has seen transit pass programs, bike purchases, car sharing options and shared electric vehicle purchases as commitments from developers.

“We need to explore the success and challenges that go along with those components, so the proponent (of a development) understands our expectations in advance,” Murdock said.

“That way council can take comfort that the proponent has considered the best incentives to encourage residents to choose alternative forms of transportation.”

The reason this is only now coming to the attention of councillors is because of a shift in the types of development being proposed to Saanich.

“We’re seeing more dense residential development in major centres. When you don’t have the surface available for parking, it means you have to go underground, which is a considerable expense for developers,” Murdock said. “Council can say that we’ll tolerate a variance, reduce the amount of parking stalls, and, in exchange, contribute a portion of the money a developer saves to alternative forms of transportation, so residents will not need those additional parking stalls.”

Brice expects the committee will have a policy outlining guidelines ready for council by late spring.

“Up until now, we’ve been working with goodwill. I think everybody’s been trying to advance the issue but it has to be more than just token. We have to look for ways to quantifiably say this investment is likely to result in a change of behaviour.”

Traffic troubles around Uptown

Uptown gets earful over layout, traffic
Difficult to judge final product in mid-construction, says developer
By Kim Westad, Times Colonist January 12, 2011

Uptown Shopping Centre has been touted as the design of the future when it comes to malls, but critics say it looks like more of a white elephant.

“It’s badly designed, focusing inward instead of outward,” Saanich resident Rob Wickson said Tuesday. “I look at it and see missed opportunities.”

Several residents took shots at the Douglas Street development at a Saanich council meeting this week, and politicians also said they’ve had numerous complaints about the look of and accessibility to the site.

Geoff Nagle, spokesman for Morguard Investments which owns the development, cautioned that it’s difficult to judge the final product when it is still in the midst of construction.

The first phase of Uptown is complete and the second soon to start on the site, sandwiched between Douglas and Blanshard streets at the former Town and Country mall site.

Instead of a covered mall, Uptown tries to recreate more of a small downtown feel, with streets and exterior access to stores.

The Future Shop building at the corner of Saanich Road and Douglas Street recently won an award for best new commercial mixed-use building.

“It may have won an award, but a great number of residents would greet that with a fair amount of derision,” Coun. Vic Derman said. “People say it doesn’t look inviting. That’s the more polite comment.”

The comments came this week as Nagle asked for some changes to the plan for the second phase of the development.

A proposed green roof on one building was reduced to 35 per cent of the roof, so the remainder could be used for outdoor seating for a potential restaurant.

Most of the proposed changes won’t be perceptible to the public, Saanich staff said. All but Coun. Dean Murdock voted in favour of the changes. Murdock said he couldn’t see the positive for the public in the changes.

But the meeting was largely an airing of concerns council had or had heard from constituents about the $350-million development.

“Overwhelmingly, the feedback I get is that from the outside, it appears to be very imposing, almost monolithic and not inviting to pedestrians or cyclists from either side,” said Murdock.

Coun. Judy Brownoff asked when promised plants that are to trail over the front of the award-winning building to soften the look would be planted, only to learn they already have been but missed the growing season this year.

Almost all of council said they’ve received comments from citizens about the look of the development, ranging from the “armoured facade” at the corner of Douglas Street and Saanich Road to difficulty navigating once inside.

Coun. Susan Brice asked about the proposed town plaza, one of the selling points of the development.

“What you see today is not the plaza,” Nagle said. “That is a very temporary construction situation.”

The Italian cast iron kiosks will have berms and plantings around them, so they aren’t as dominant as they are now.

“We’re upsizing the size of the plants. I had a hissy fit when they arrived. They weren’t big enough,” Nagle said.

A water feature at the corner of Blanshard Street and Saanich Road will likely open in early spring. It will showcase a 2.5-metre bronze sculpture, with a fountain and pond surrounding it.

Brownoff is also concerned about traffic and pedestrians crossing busy Saanich Road to get from the Save-On Plaza to Uptown.

“It’s just a matter of time until there’s an accident,” Brownoff said. “I see pedestrians cutting across too.”

She made a motion that Saanich let the province, responsible for that road, know of their concerns.

Is Uptown on the right track?

Editorial: Uptown centre’s bumpy start

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Times Colonist

There was plenty of optimism four years ago, when Saanich council approved a massive $150-million retail complex to replace the tired Town and Country shopping centre.

“It’s a significant investment for the entire region,” Mayor Frank Leonard said. “It shouldn’t be a place to shop, but to gather.”

Flash forward to 2011. The initial reviews of Uptown are in and Saanich councillors say they are not positive.

“People say it doesn’t look inviting,” says Coun. Vic Derman. “That’s the more polite comment.”

Coun. Dean Murdock says he has been told that Uptown is imposing and monolithic.

The developer, Morguard Investments, returned to council this week to ask for changes to its plans for the second phase of Uptown, giving the councillors a chance to comment on how Uptown has been working so far.

Uptown is still a work in progress. Only the first phase has been opened and work on the second phase has barely started. We have half the stores, traffic flow is still unsettled and features that would soften the look of the centre are not yet in place.

While it is too early for shoppers to make a final decision on the project, Morguard would be wise to listen to the complaints that have been raised. The design needs to be appealing to draw people to Uptown — and traffic is needed if it is going to be a financial success.

Uptown was designed as a lifestyle centre, with much of the parking hidden and stores lining an open-air street designed to look like an established downtown. It is a new concept in Canada, but lifestyle centres have become popular in the United States, and Uptown could surely learn from what has worked elsewhere.

There have been complaints that parking is not easy and the mall is not pedestrian-friendly. It will be hard to entice people to visit if they don’t like driving to it or walking to it, so Morguard will need to find a way to make Uptown more welcoming.

Other concerns are not new; they were raised before the development won approval in 2007. It does not connect with its surroundings, but rather looks inward, and from too many angles it seems impenetrable.

The work on Uptown went ahead even after those potential faults were noted. Saanich approved the development in just five months, a remarkably short time for the largest retail development the municipality has ever seen. More time listening to the concerns being raised — and fine-tuning the plans — might have helped.

Uptown is more than just a retail development. It will be a gateway to Greater Victoria on both major highways and a key factor in the development of the commercial area extending from the centre south to Mayfair. Its second phase might make it a huge success.

Still, with every major proposal they see, councillors throughout the capital region should remember the words of Saanich Coun. Paul Gerrard. As the president of the Gorge-Tillicum Community Association in 2006, Gerrard urged caution in approving Uptown.

As Gerrard said: “If mistakes are made on this, we’ll have to live with it a long time.”

Saanich neighbourhoods need better transit service

Rapid transit on Douglas is great but other Saanich neighbourhoods need better service, council says
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

Douglas Street will be the future home of rapid transit now that both Saanich and Victoria councils have thrown their support behind the route.

However, Saanich needs to be more critical of B.C. Transit’s 25-year plan because such a geographically narrow focus could leave many of the municipality’s residents without quality service, Mayor Frank Leonard said Monday night.

“We need not be shy about (population centres) in our municipality that are not getting serviced now,” he said. “There are 25,000 people in Cedar Hill not getting adequate service.”

Coun. Dean Murdock agreed with Leonard’s notion that it doesn’t serve Saanich to concentrate on bringing rapid transit to Langford – expected to be heavily residential in 25 years – if that means neglecting Saanich’s already heavily-residential neighbourhoods.

“We’re looking at making a major infrastructure investment that goes out to the (Langford) that has projected growth in significant numbers but pales in comparison to pockets of the Saanich community,” Murdock said. “There are areas just within Saanich that are chronically underserved by public transit and have a population base significantly larger than even the projected growth for portions of that projected rapid transit corridor.”

The concerns arose during a presentation by transit planners on Monday. B.C. Transit was seeking council’s approval to make the Douglas Street corridor the location for rapid transit.

How it will look still remains up in the air. Rapid bus service or light rail, as well as lane alignment and location of bike lanes are among the many questions left to be answered.

“It’s pretty critical that we get things right. We’re not going to get a second chance at this, that’s for sure,” said Coun. Vic Derman, acknowledging his appreciation that B.C. Transit asked for approval from council and the public before moving ahead.

Transit planner Emily Flett told council open houses will be held in 2011 to examine the different technologies and their benefits as well as costs associated with the different options.

“We need longer term views. This is about making an investment that’s going to last us into the long-term,” he said, citing greenhouse gas emissions and attractiveness to riders as major factors in that decision.

He suggested that Saanich and Victoria councils – as they share jurisdictional boundaries along Douglas street – hold a joint meeting to discuss the long-term plan.

“As we are preparing to see significant redevelopment in both these communities, we must ensure we’re doing that in harmony and promoting the shared vision for that corridor,” Murdock said.

Saanich Council unanimously support rail-based rapid transit

SAANICH COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTS RAIL-BASED RAPID TRANSIT

Nov 1, 2010 – CFAX 1070

SAANICH COUNCIL VOICED IT’S SUPPORT FOR RAIL BASED RAPID TRANSIT ALONG THE DOUGLAS CORRIDOR , THIS AT A COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY NIGHT

COUNCILLOR DEAN MURDOCK SAYS IT WAS A UNANIMOUS DECISION TO PUT SAANICH COUNCIL’S STAMP OF SUPPORT ON RAIL BASED TECHNOLOGY

“I’m quite pleased with the fact that council has made the endorsement of the plan. I think a rail-based rapid transit system will be an enormous benefit, socially, environmentally and economically to Saanich and to the Capital Region”

MURDOCK SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE OTHER JURISDICTIONS WHO ARE IMPACTED BY THE RAPID TRANSIT PLANS TO THROW THEIR SUPPORT BEHIND THE RAIL OPTION AS WELL

Support for Rail-based Rapid Transit

The BC Transit rapid transit plan offers huge opportunities for economic development,
environmental sustainability, and social benefits for Saanich and the Capital Region. Saanich
Council has a limited opportunity to convey its support for a rapid transit solution that will
ensure that our community capitalizes on the full range of available economic, environmental,
and social benefits of a rapid transit system.

Economic Benefits
The Douglas Street – Island Highway corridor is a major transportation thoroughfare with
immense potential for commercial and residential redevelopment. A rail-based rapid transit
system creates an opportunity to drive economic activity along the corridor that will allow
Saanich to achieve the vision of a major “hub” centre at Uptown with co-location of commercial
and residential development in close proximity to rapid transit.

A rail-based system is a permanent commitment to quality transit that provides a basis for
development decisions. Unlike a bus system that can be shifted out of a particular corridor, a rail
system creates a framework for the rational development and siting decisions that instills
confidence in development planning and economic investments. Saanich and the Capital Region
cannot miss an opportunity to inspire confidence in the redevelopment of this important corridor.

Environmental Benefits
A rail-based transit system offers environmental benefits that cannot be attained with a bus
system. Rail technology is an electric-powered system that dramatically reduces greenhouse gas
emissions.

A rail-based system also draws a considerably larger ridership than bus-based technology.
Experiences across North America and Europe indicate a dramatic increase in ridership among
communities that introduced a rail-based system (e.g., Salt Lake City achieved its 10-year
ridership projections on the first day of its service; in its second year of service, the Canada Line
in Vancouver surpassed its five-year ridership projections). By shifting commuters away from
the single-occupant vehicle into a quality, reliable rail-based service, Saanich and the Capital
Region can achieve a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and attain the goal of a
one-third reduction in emission levels by 2020.

Social Benefits
A rail-based rapid transit system provides commuters with a quality, reliable, and efficient
alternative to the single-occupant vehicle. The ability to move commuters more quickly between
their origin and destination allows them to spend more time with their families and less time in a
congested right-of-way.

Limited Opportunity
BC Transit’s own survey results indicate an overwhelming preference for rail-based technology.
During Saanich’s Official Community Plan and Climate Action Plan consultation processes,
residents repeatedly expressed a preference for rail-based technology. As BC Transit quickly
moves toward a recommendation on selecting a technology for the rapid transit plan, Saanich
Council has an opportunity to endorse, on behalf of its residents, rail-based transit as the
preferred technology for the rapid transit plan.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Saanich Council convey its support for rail-based transit
as the preferred technology or modal choice for the Douglas Street – Island Highway rapid transit
project between downtown and the West Shore to BC Transit, the Victoria Regional Transit
Commission, the CRD Board, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as
Members of the Legislature and Members of Parliament representing Saanich.

DEAN MURDOCK
SAANICH COUNCILLOR

A project the community can be proud of

Deadline set for demolishing eyesores on Inverness and Cloverdale
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

A half-block of derelict buildings will soon no longer be an eyesore for passing motorists or nearby residents.

Four vacant houses on the corner of Cloverdale Avenue and Inverness Road will be demolished by August 2011 to make way for a 42-unit residence and coffee shop.

At public hearing Tuesday night, Saanich council unanimously gave first, second and third readings to issue a rezoning application and development permit to build The Rutledge complex.

The process has taken years, with agreement between council and the developer taking a number of meetings to achieve.

“We’ve seen this issue come before us (at least) five times,” Coun. Dean Murdock said, unsatisfied that the development needed to come back so many times to get what council wanted.

“It should not have come to this. I don’t want to see this chamber become a place of negotiation on community amenities.”

Council approved the development after securing a number of covenants on the property.

As well as a firm deadline for demolition of the existing dilapidated homes, council was able to get a commitment on 32 environmental sustainability initiatives, a contribution to Saanich’s Affordable Housing Fund, alternative transportation incentives for resident and upgrades to the adjacent Rutledge Park.

Tuesday’s public hearing was a continuation of one held last week, which lasted four hours before council asked the developer to return with more information and specifics.

“I think we got the correct development here, rather than saying ‘we need something on that space and anything would do.’ I think that didn’t happen here,” said Coun. Paul Gerrard.

Though many people came out in strong support of the development, there were also a number of concerns, which Gerrard said were addressed by council.

“Democracy’s a messy process, but it certainly turned out a better development here for the community,” said Coun. Wayne Hunter.

The Rutledge will be a 42-unit residence with a small commercial business on the main floor. A covenant was secured to ensure the use of that space be limited to a coffee shop for at least two years.

Coun. Vicki Sanders thanked the community for their patience and input in the long-fought battle to improve the corner properties.

“This has been a black cloud for council for quite some time,” she said. “But I look forward to the day when I get asked ‘Where’s Cloverdale and Inverness?’ and I can say, ‘It’s that gorgeous building next to that beautiful park.’”

Final reading of the applications will go to council at a later date.

Making density work for Rutledge

Public hearing adjourned after marathon session

By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Saanich council will next Tuesday readdress a 42-unit apartment complex with commercial space that stalled following a marathon public hearing this week.

Coun. Dean Murdock said he was “disappointed” at the level of committment from the developer to capitalize on alternative transportation opportunities in the neighbourhood around Cloverdale Avenue at Inverness Street.

“This complex is in a great location, near quality public transit … and in close proximity to the Galloping Goose. The proponent could’ve taken better advantage of that by promoting alternatives,” he said.

Transportation is a key issue for councillors and residents who spoke, as there are concerns surrounding increased traffic and street parking in the area due to a 16-stall parking variance being requested.

Murdock said he’s also disappointed that there will be no affordable housing units offering in the complex. Instead, the developer will contribute $63,000 to the municipal housing trust fund.

There was also consternation, Murdock said, among councillors, that the applicant was ambiguous in committing to specific ecologically sustainable features for the complex.

The public hearing reconvenes Tuesday (Aug. 17) at 7:30 p.m. at Saanich municipal hall.

Transportation hub at Uptown

MAJOR TRANSPORTATION HUB COULD BE IN THE WORKS FOR UPTOWN

May 18, 2010 CFAX 1070

ONE SAANICH COUNCILLOR IS CONFIDENT A MAJOR TRANSPORTATION HUB WILL BE FACTORED INTO THE NEW DEVELOPMENT AT UPTOWN. SPEAKING ON CFAX 1070 TUESDAY WITH MURRAY LANGDON, DEAN MURDOCK SAYS NOW THAT PHASE ONE OF THE CONSTRUCTION IS NEARING COMPLETION, THE HUB CAN GO TO THE DISCUSSION TABLE.

“At this point, the only development permit that’s been issued is for what’s been built. What goes beyond that is still subject to staff discussion, public discussion and full debate, so I have no doubt that one of the integral components of that design is going to be the inclusion of a transportation centre.”

MURDOCK SAYS ALTHOUGH THE BEST MODE OF TRANSPORTATION TO BE USED IS STILL AN UNKNOWN; WHAT IS KNOWN, IS THERE NEEDS TO BE IMPROVEMENT ON THE MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE THROUGH THAT CORRIDOR

Major centre with major signs

SAANICH DOUBTFUL ABOUT UPTOWN SIGNAGE REQUEST

May 13, 2010 CFAX 1070

SAANICH COUNCIL HAS DEFERRED DECISION ON A REQUEST FROM THE UPTOWN CENTRE DEVELOPERS FOR RELAXATION OF THE MUNICIPAL SIGN BY-LAW. COUNCILLOR DEAN MURDOCK IS AMONG THOSE WHO HAVE RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE MORGUARD INVESTMENTS REQUEST…WHICH HE SAYS COULD RESULT IN ALMOST FIVE HUNDRED SIGNS IN A TWO BLOCK STRETCH…

“Not that we don’t have faith that Morguard, as a landlord, will want their project to be attractive; that they have of course the best interests in mind for their shopping centre as well…but Council needed further reassurance that what we were going to be approving in that area would enhance the ambience that we are attempting to create on the Douglas corridor.”

MURDOCK SAYS THE COMPANY HAS ASKED FOR PERMISSION FOR UP TO FIVE SIGNS ON EACH OF ALMOST 100 INDIVIDUAL PREMISES. THE CURRENT LIMIT IS TWO.