Oak Bay High fields to be proper size, but pathways narrowed

Playing field construction affects width of walkways around school

The new Oak Bay High will feature regulation size playing fields.

But plans to cut down the width of pathways around the school by more than a half-metre to make room for those fields is not an acceptable solution, Oak Bay councillors told an architect working for the project designer.

“I don’t think I can stress enough to have those pathways wide enough,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby, whose research into the topic found that three metres was the standard width for a mixed-use pathway. “I didn’t see anything about 2.4 metres last year.”

Mayor Nils Jensen also implored designers and the school to find a way to add the extra 60 cm to the pathway width.

“We want as much width as you can leave us,” he said, suggesting a reduction in the allotted 100 parking stalls might solve the problem. “We may find that we might not need all that parking.”

Councillors were told the situation isn’t as simple as that.

The Neighbourhood Learning Centre, which will house a daycare, teen centre and activity rooms, takes up 15 per cent of the new school, said Greater Victoria District facilities director Seamus Howley.

“We have to be all things to everybody, but it’s a very constrained site,” he said, adding that building a new school next to an existing one still in operation comes with its own space challenges.

Barry Scroggs, president of contracting company Farmer Group, said meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements has impacted on the width of the pathway. He said the grass area next to the path is designed for biofiltration and cannot be reduced in size.

“The site is very compact,” he said, adding his company will look at trying to address council’s request. “We’re going to take what you are asking us to do … and see how we would be able to do it. Where we can’t, we’ll have a reason why.”

In his project update presentation at a special committee of the whole meeting last week, architect Adam Fawkes, from the architectural firm Hughes Condon Marler, presented other plans for the new school.

He called the new 420-seat theatre, which will feature a thrust stage and orchestra pit, “fantastic.”

He also described a plan for covered bike parking to be built at the front of the school and accommodate 60 bikes. The bike area might also be a tight squeeze, however, as a Sept. 10 visit by representatives of the Active Transportation Advisory Committee found 84 parked bikes at the school.

Council decided to strike an Oak Bay High redevelopment steering committee made up various stakeholders, to meet regularly as construction continues.

Building permit applications for the new high school are expected to be made in November.

reporter@vicnews.com

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