Proposed Community Centre at 926/930 Pandora Ave
Timeline of events and communications
- the City announced that they are collaborating with the Province, through BC Housing and the Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) to build 220 new non-market rental homes and create a new neighbourhood community centre with a gym and child care spaces on City-owned land at 930/926 Pandora Avenue.
- See press release: June 9, 2021: “New Housing and Neighbourhood Community Centre Proposed for Victoria” (Note: this has been the only communication from the City to the public on this development)
- In July 2021, the NPNA sent a letter to MLA Lore requesting that the three BC Housing properties (930 Pandora, 930 Mason, and 959 Balmoral) be discussed in relationship to each other.
July- August 2021
- From July-August 2021, the NPNA and DRA participated in two meetings hosted by the City to learn more about the proposed community centre at 930 Pandora.
- At these meetings, we learned that there was no community consultation planned, and that there would be no support for consultation done by the NPNA or DRA, and that the consultation completed in 2017 for the Crystal Pool project would be the only community consultation used to inform the design of the community centre.
- We also asked about the inclusion of the equity department, and how the reality of the 900 block was being taken into consideration.
- See: September 21, 2021: Joint letter from the NPNA & DRA highlighting concerns about the proposed community centre at 926/930 Pandora
- In this letter we request that the executive administration of the City return to the Mayor and Council for explicit direction on the project plan and direction of the 926/930 Pandora project based on the concerns highlighted in this letter.
- October 2021: In response to our letter, the NPNA and DRA were invited to attend a meeting with the Mayor. During this meeting, we discussed a longer timeline to include community consultation, not solely relying on the feedback from the Crystal Pool project to inform the design of the community centre, and restructuring the project team to include the NPNA and DRA more meaningfully.
- October – November 2021: The NPNA and DRA began attending weekly meetings hosted by the City. A longer timeline had been negotiated that included time and resources for a community consultation process. The consultation was scheduled to begin in mid January and would include a mail-out, an online platform with information, a survey, in person open house, and online small group meetings.
November 23, 2021
- The NPNA asked that the goals of the community consultation for the new community centre ask the community to:
- identify the characteristics of a suitable community centre (ie. access to green space, transit, accessibility, location within neighbourhood, safety, co-location of services), and
- to assess whether or not the community believes that a community centre at 926/930 Pandora Ave would meet the neighbourhood’s needs for a community centre.
- The City project team felt that this did not align with the goals of the consultation process and as a result the project was put on pause.
December 2, 2021
- The following letter was sent by Mayor Helps to the NPNA and DRA.
- “I’m writing on behalf of Council to thank you and members of the DRA and NPNA for your engagement to date on the potential for a community centre at 930 Pandora Avenue to be co-operated by the Downtown Residents Association and the North Park Neighbourhood Association. Council received an update on the project today in a closed meeting with respect to the real estate and intergovernmental aspects of the project. At that meeting, Council gave direction to staff to bring back for Council’s consideration plans for the ground floor of 930 Pandora that makes room for some or all of: community use space, a gymnasium, a community kitchen, childcare, and space to achieve some of the aims in the Create Victoria Arts and Culture Master Plan. Council is proceeding directly with this approach in order to ensure that the potential for 220 new units of much-needed housing – with significant provincial government funding preliminarily committed – moves forward for public consideration through a rezoning process as quickly as possible. An operator or operators for the community use space, the childcare, and the arts and culture space will be determined later in the process.“
December 7, 2021
- The NPNA responded with the following letter. The NPNA board does not feel that a “community use space, a gymnasium, a community kitchen, childcare”- which normally constitute a community centre – is suited to this location given the confluence of issues that has been caused by a concentration of support and services in this area.
- This new direction from Council means that the 18,500 sqft ground floor space is longer being pursued as a community centre for North Park and Downtown-Harris Green.
- This also means a change in process – The NPNA and DRA will not be participating in the design or planning of this space. According to the project team, there will no longer be a community consultation as originally planned for January 2022. Although, they did say they would be reaching out to stakeholders.
- If you have any questions about this process or the use of the ground floor space at 930 Pandora Ave, please contact the project team: Derrick Newman, Trish Piwowar, Bill Eisenhauer, and Jeff Brehaut.
January 20, 2022
- Councillor Loveday and Mayor Helps brought a motion to the January 20, 2022 Committee of the Whole meeting regarding the dedication of the ground floor of the building at 926-930 Pandora as an arts hub to provide affordable space to artists in perpetuity as well as a daycare
- This motion did not pass. Staff will continue to work on plans for the community use space based on the December 2, 2021 direction from Council (see above)
May 4, 2022
- At the May 5 Committee of the Whole meeting, Staff presented a report to Council with the proposed functional program for the new community space at 926 Pandora Avenue. See the report and attachments here under F.1. From the report “The main floor space, consisting of approximately 1,626 square meters (17,500 square feet) includes capacity for a 36 person childcare operation, along with six small to medium size multipurpose rooms, a large multi-purpose room, a kitchen facility, administration space, and an outdoor program area. The facility design is intended to ensure the spaces are flexible and adaptable to meet community needs over the long term.”
- Council responded by approving the following:
- Approving the functional program for the new community space in the development planned for 926 Pandora Avenue, as shown in Attachment A.
- Directing staff to apply to the remaining process the Council’s equity values.
- Forwarding this motion to the May 5, 2022 daytime Council meeting for Council’s recommendation.
- That Council forward the 2019 Pandora Task Force Report and Recommendations to staff to be considered for implementation alongside the redevelopment of 926-930 Pandora.
- BC Housing has submitted the proposal to the City of Victoria, and documents have been published on the Development Tracker here: https://tender.victoria.ca/WebApps/OurCity/Prospero/Details.aspx?folderNumber=DP000624
- See BC Housing’s project page (and sign up to receive updates) here: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/victoria-930-pandora
- The proposal includes 158 units of affordable rental housing, 47 supportive housing units, and community programming space & daycare on the ground floor.
- The proposed development has a 5.48 FSR and is 20 storeys in height, which falls within the allowable height and density permitted in “Core Residential” by the Official Community Plan.
- Because there are no variances to height or density requested, this development falls under the City of Victoria’s Rapid Deployment of Affordable Housing Resources process. This means that this project will not need to go through rezonings with public hearings.
- BC Housing, the City of Victoria and CRHC will be holding online community information sessions December 6-8, 2022 to share updates and answer questions.
As of March 28th, 2023, the applicant, BC Housing, updated the submitted plans of the proposal to the City of Victoria, and they are currently being recirculated for staff’s review.
- Updates can be found on the Development Tracker here: https://tender.victoria.ca/WebApps/OurCity/Prospero/Details.aspx?folderNumber=DP000624
900 block resources
- 900 Block Pandora Task Force Report and Recommendations, September 2019
- Equity Presentation to City Council, June 2019
- Watch the June 13 Council meeting (starts at 32:42)
- Here are the detailed equity maps and facility research we gathered for our presentation to Council
- Here is our analysis of site options, research on the social determinants of health and the inter-connection with recreation, and our affordability analysis
- And here is the full equity and affordability motion