University Heights Response from the GHRA

Thursday, August 27, 2020 5:36 PM

University Heights Renewal Project GHRA Response to Saanich

Saturday, August 1, 2020 12:41 PM

University Heights Renewal Project GHRA Response to Saanich     February -- 2020

Attention: Gina Lyons, Area Planner

This referral response provides the Gordon Head Residents’ Association’s (GHRA) comments on Wesbild’s revised proposal for University Heights, (folder DPA00931; REZ00605).

We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of Wesbild and its consultants to engage the residents of Gordon Head and the GHRA Board. These included a well advertised and well attended open house on December 4, 2019, and a GHRA-sponsored open meeting on January 21, 2020. Many of the comments arising from feedback on the initial proposal have been satisfactorily addressed with this revision. 

Our main concerns remain associated with parking and traffic. These concerns are exacerbated by Saanich policies to densify Shelbourne and McKenzie while reducing vehicular capacity on these arterials, and Saanich’s encouragement for off street parking space reductions well below bylaw requirements. Traffic is already spilling into adjacent residential streets to avoid congestion on these arterials, at the same time as parking on residential streets is increasingly scarce due to secondary and garden suite parking, overflow from underserved multi-family buildings, and University of Victoria commuters avoiding paid on-campus parking. 

On Site Parking: The proposal for 272 residential stalls for 528 residential units is, in our view, inadequate. At a mere 0.5 stalls per unit, it is inevitable that there will be tenants with cars who will not have an allocated parking stall, and will want to park on surrounding residential streets. Parking on these streets will need to be signed for residents of these streets, and enforced. 

Traffic: The GHRA supports Wesbild’s revised plan to limit vehicle access from Cedar Hill Road to one northbound-only entrance, with no ability to exit. If the existing left turn lane off McKenzie is to be retained, it should be redesigned to reduce conflicts with vehicles stacked to turn left at Shelbourne. 

Pedestrian and Bicycle Lanes: Saanich needs to ensure that the wider sidewalks and bike lanes on Shelbourne and McKenzie continue along the ESSO station frontages. 

Density and Massing:  Many residents have expressed concerns about the building heights, austere facades, landscaping, and sidewalk widths. Nonetheless, the revised proposal is consistent with the Shelbourne Valley Plan’s building height designations, and the Official Community Plan’s policies on allocating density.  We expect the Advisory Design Panel will provide useful comments on these aspects of the proposal. 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.


President, Gordon Head Residents’ Association