UVic hires consultant after public backlash over proposed parkade

Consulting firm hired to help quell neighbour's concerns over a planned sports complex and seven-level parkade.

The University of Victoria has hired a consulting firm to help quell neighbour’s concerns over a planned sports complex and seven-level parkade.

H.B. Lanarc will meet with community associations to discuss the role they want to play in the next round of public consultations on the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.

“It’ll be focused around process and good process and what that would look like,” said Neil Connelly, UVic’s director of campus planning and sustainability. “We heard feedback (from Saanich council) that we needed to undertake additional meaningful consultation. This will be more (discussion) around what does that entail, what does that look like (as opposed to) the specific issues (people have with the proposed centre).”

In October the university unsuccessfully tried to get council’s support to approve variances necessary to build the new facility and parkade.

“My definition of consultation is providing an opportunity to meaningfully change the outcome when appropriate. UVic confused that with an information session and telling people what they’re going to do,” Coun. Vic Derman said at that meeting. He was referring to an open house held by UVic that some people felt was premature.

“Meaningful consultation is something we’ve been asking for for quite some time … because that is the key,” Cadboro Bay Residents’ Association president Elizabeth Borek said in October.

Connelly says the contract with H.B. Lanarc runs through the spring, and include providing UVic with a framework for how to best approach future community consultation.

The next open house specifically focused on CARSA and the parkade will be held in the spring, Connelly said. Once that’s completed, UVic will return to council for a third time to ask for height and parking variances.

The project was initially rejected by Saanich council in August 2010, with councillors echoing residents’ concerns about the height, look and location of the structure, as well as the lack of consultation.

Originally, UVic hoped to have the project completed by September 2014. It’s now not expected to be built until spring 2015 at the earliest.

The current plans are for a 17,685 square-metre complex, including a 2,100-seat gym, a four-court field house, an elevated running track and a climbing centre. The parkade, as proposed, is 503 stalls and seven levels.

kslavin@saanichnews.com