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.
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.
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.