A Special Council Meeting on July 30th concerned just one item — the new Oak Bay High School proposal. As you know, there has been extensive consultation on this project with both the community and the municipality, particularly over the past year.
This is a first for the Victoria School District, making the proposal unique because, as mandated by the Provincial Government, development guidelines are based on a new government approach to buidling called “Design Build.” This formula has been used in only two other BC communities and departs from the norm for new building and development.
After a presentation by the School District, with support from the consulting architect, Oak Bay Council was asked to approve three requests, one for parking specific to a small lot off Cranmore, one for overall parking on the site and one for building height. I voted with Council to support moving these items forward to an August 13th Committee of the Whole meeting for further discussion (I will be absent from this meeting on holiday).
A major concern of mine is the need for a traffic management study, given the site and its interface with surrounding neighbourhoods and residential streets. You will remember that I felt the same about the Oak Bay Lodge re-development.
Having also observed in another community the building of two new schools by the Saanich School District, traffic management in and around school sites that border residential areas, is always a concern and has long term impacts, most of which fall to the municipality (not to the School District) to address and resolve.
I believe that it’s critical, therefore, to analyze and plan, as much as possible, for contingencies related to traffic near a site of this size. I understand that the new school will accommodate 1,300 students, a performance centre (theatre) and a neighbourhood learning centre. Such enhancements can’t help but create an increase in traffic beyond the normal school day.
I am pleased to see that a project of this scale and type will serve our community in a variety of positive ways and will be a real asset to quality of life for students, families and the public. But let’s make sure that we do our due diligence on traffic.