Victoria gets to work on 30-year vision

Most unfunded goals connected to likelihood of major natural disaster in Capital Region

  • Sep. 12, 2013 4:00 p.m.

After a year of planning, 57 public meetings and input from more than 6,000 residents, Victoria staff have begun implementing the city’s official community plan.

The plan prioritizes everything from growing neighbourhood villages into more complete commercial centres to building walkable and cycle-friendly communities, disaster management and food security.

“Burnside-Gorge is actually the only neighbourhood that does not have a regional hub,” said Suzanne Cole, executive director of the Burnside-Gorge Community Association.

“We’re looking forward to the creation of an (urban village) to really make this a destination neighbourhood, as opposed to a pass-through neighbourhood.”

The association hopes to work with city planners to identify a natural urban village and look at rapid transit and traffic calming options through its main arteries of Burnside and Gorge roads and Douglas Street.

Each of Victoria’s 13 neighbourhood associations submitted priorities to city hall prior to the final draft of the OCP last year. The result is 174 “actions” that are slated for completion over the next 30 years. About 100 initiatives – from identifying and developing a central business district to the completion of parks and bicycle master plans – will be completed or underway within five years.

A staff report also highlights 11 unfunded initiatives – items not covered in the city’s budgeting – mostly related to the region’s 32 per cent probability of a major earthquake within the next 50 years.

“If the earthquake hits the region, it hits the province, so our recovery plan needs to be done in conjunction with all the surrounding municipalities in the Capital Region, and obviously with our provincial government,” Mayor Dean Fortin said.

Victoria lacks a citywide seismic assessment for both public and private businesses, as well as a comprehensive clean-up plan in the event of a natural disaster, but emergency preparedness is too much for the city to tackle on its own, Fortin said.

“Just because it’s unfunded, it doesn’t mean it’s the City of Victoria’s responsibility to fund it,” he said.

Another unfunded initiative hanging over council is the aging Crystal Pool. A decision on that matter is expected next spring, after council receives public input on whether to sell the property or complete necessary upgrades to the recreation facility.

The OCP is the city’s overarching visionary document and all future policy decisions must fit within its mandate.

View the implementation plan here.

dpalmer@vicnews.com