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City of Victoria reconsiders use of former Blanshard Elementary site

City council voted to explore more community-based options for 950 Kings Rd.
Land use for the property at 950 Kings Rd., which houses the former Blanshard Elementary School, will be further explored by the City of Victoria. (Google Maps)

Victoria City Councillors opted to further study the potential uses of a contentious land site.

The property of the former Blanshard Elementary School at 950 Kings Rd. has been a topic of debate between the city, the Capital Regional District (CRD) and local residents.

The CRD purchased the land from the Greater Victoria School District in 2015 with intentions of using it for for hospital purposes due to its proper zoning and central location. On May 2, a proposal for a 200-unit assisted-living complex was put forward to the CRD Hospitals and Housing Committee, but was rebuffed by several CRD directors who felt more community assets were needed.

“It does appear that there’s potentially a discrepancy between the direction the region is looking to go and the municipal interest and neighbourhood interest,” said Coun. Ben Isitt, who also sits as a director on the CRD Hospitals and Housing Committee.

READ MORE: CRD hears proposal for 200-unit complex at contentious Hillside-Quadra property

These inclinations emerged after residents of the Hillside-Quadra Collective, the North Park Neighborhood Association and the Hillside-Quadra Neighbourhood Association rallied against the demolition of the site. Residents argued that the school’s gymnasium, building space and greenspace plays central roles in the community, which otherwise holds the city’s highest number of low-income housing complexes.

The neighbourhood also saw the recent introduction of a large health facility for seniors living with dementia; the Summit at 955 Hillside Ave. is next door to the Blanshard Elementary property and is set to open soon.

READ MORE: Neighbourhood associations want to explore options for Victoria’s former Blanshard Elementary site

In city council on May 23, councillors voted to forward a motion that would “ensure appropriate land use” for the 950 Kings Rd. site.

Actions on the motion included being vocal about retaining community services at the site, and amending zoning to limit permitted use to: school use, park use, a community centre, a gymnasium, a daycare centre, a cultural centre, a community garden or library. The motion opts to also restrict the maximum site coverage to its present dimensions.

The motion says other uses, including hospital use, of the site should be explored by all stakeholders.

“The zoning of the land doesn’t reflect the appropriate land use of the site and I think we’ve been hearing that loud and clear from residents of the neighbourhood,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday.

Any changes to the property’s use and development will still need to go through the CRD Hospitals and Housing Committee, as the city does not own the property.

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