A neighbourhood action group is concerned two new developments on Hillside Avenue and Kings Road will take away precious green space in the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood.
The two sites are located at 950 Kings Rd., formerly Blanshard Elementary School, and the field behind it at 955 Hillside Ave. The latter has been selected by the Capital Regional Hospital District as the site for a new 320-bed seniors facility to replace Oak Bay Lodge and Mount Tolmie Hospital.
Both pieces of land, the equivalent of roughly seven-acres, are owned by the Greater Victoria School District. The hospital district purchased the land on Hillside Avenue from the school district in 2013, but has yet to purchase the land on Kings Road.
Recently, the hospital district sent letters to residents informing them of a workshop, where they could express their concerns with the project. But the Hillside-Quadra Neighbourhood Action Group believes residents are not being properly consulted.
According to Kelly Greenwell, executive director of the Quadra Village Community Centre, only 300 notices were delivered, many of which were in unmarked envelopes and only gave residents 10 days notice to attend the workshop last Saturday.
“Not many people were informed. The largest low-income housing complex in Greater Victoria is across the road and half the people in the complex didn’t receive notices and that’s immediately adjacent to the site,” he said.
“It’s set up for failure in terms of actually including people’s voices in this process. We feel like the neighbourhood is being snowed.”
Greenwell said residents fear losing the limited green space the community has access to.
Currently, the field at Hillside Avenue is the closest area for children to play, with the next closest park being Topaz Park, to serve the hundreds of kids and youth in the densely-populated block between Hillside, Quadra and Blanshard streets.
“This green space is of great importance to the healthy function of the community. If the development goes in the way it’s set out so far, the chances of meaningful, functional green space is limited,” Greenwell said, adding they also have concerns about increasing traffic and parking availability.
“There has to be innovation and creativity and a shared idea of green space that residents with their loved ones who are visiting and neighbourhood residents can access.”
Maurice Rachwalski, project director with the Summit, said zoning only allows the seniors facility to cover 40 per cent of the site, meaning 60 per cent would not be covered by the building.
He added the hospital district has not decided what it will do if it acquires the Kings Road land.
“At this time, there are no specific development plans for that site, it will remain as it is for at least five years,” he said. “It’s a strategic acquisition on the part of the hospital district . . . We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.”
The sale of the Kings Road land was recommended at the Monday school board meeting. The outcome was not available at press time.
Construction of the seniors facility on Hillside Avenue will begin in summer 2016 with a completion date of spring 2019.