Neighbours expressed concerns about the proposed new building for SMUS Junior school which needs variance approval to extend it into the side yards. (Inset) Shaded areas on a sketch show where variances are needed.

Neighbours expressed concerns about the proposed new building for SMUS Junior school which needs variance approval to extend it into the side yards. (Inset) Shaded areas on a sketch show where variances are needed.

Traffic trouble for St. Michaels Junior school

Congested traffic and parking as the foremost issues with the project

The proposed rebuild for St. Michaels Junior school will have to wait a while longer.

At a council meeting held July 14, council and the public alike expressed support for the new school building, and for the open, ground level and green space-heavy design, but all said that there are further concerns that need to be addressed before construction can begin.

Paul Merrick of Merrick Architecture presented plans with a variance that was reduced from a previous plan presented to council, and Nadine King of Boulevard Transportation Group discussed a parking and traffic study that was conducted on the school and roads surrounding it.

More than a dozen members of the public spoke, with a wide variety of concerns. In addition to adjacent neighbours’ misgivings about the school obstructing their views, those who had been able to view the plans for the underground parking lot questioned its practicality.

“I know the hurry that parents are in most of the time, and I don’t think they’re going to use it,” said Coun. Michelle Kirby. Parents are more likely to continue using a quick drop-off zone rather than parking, she said. Additionally, the plan presented had children getting off the school bus and having to cross two lanes of parent drop-off traffic to get to the school.

Douglas Scott, a resident of Beaverbrooke Street, spoke on behalf of several households in his neighbourhood.

“There’s no one amongst us that doesn’t support St. Michaels,” he said, “but we need to take more time to get there thoughtfully.”

Scott listed congested traffic and parking as the foremost issues with the project.

Ron Carter of Falkland Road echoed the car concerns, and added he is worried about whether the Garry oaks could actually be retained through construction.

Other points raised included worries about the water table. One resident described an underwater creek in the area that already overflows in heavy rainfall, and another said she “guaranteed” that if the project goes ahead, there would be a water problem.

Dave Marshall, director of engineering for Oak Bay, said that the water table varies throughout the entire municipality, but that he is not aware of any possible problems at the future building site. “We don’t have any records of a water table elevation at this point,” he said. “It’s not something that’s been brought to our attention here in the engineering department.”

Some residents were angered by the short notice they said they were given for the meeting, and several made comments that a number of neighbours were out of town and could not speak to the issue.

Council had a number of questions for the architect and transportation group about whether above ground, safe and covered bicycle parking will be available to children; why there is only one point of access to the school for pedestrians and cyclists and whether blasting would be necessary to build the underground parking garage.

“The discussion tonight raises a lot of questions. I don’t think we’re at a point where we can move forward,” said Coun. Pam Copley. “There’s more time that’s needed.”

Acting mayor Cairine Green emphasized that a traffic safety study needs to be conducted, rather than just analyzing traffic patterns. She also noted that she only learned of the potential water issue from residents at the meeting, and agreed that much more research is needed before moving forward.

Council asked for more information on multiple access points, the bus drop off and adjacent loading zone for parents, the potential water issue, root zone management, covered bike parking on-site, possible shower facilities for teachers to encourage cycling, a tree retention plan, and the adjacent neighbours’ impact from the variance.

Council voted unanimously to defer the approval of the variance until more information can be gathered.

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

A cardboard man bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cipher has been placed in a window at the Royal Theatre for at least several days. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Mysterious cardboard figure appears in Victoria’s Royal Theatre window

The identity of the figure, which was moved there amid cleaning, remains unknown

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in Saanich parkland

The birds don’t often touch down in the south of the Island

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read