Rockland Neighbourhood Association
Meeting of the Board of Directors
1401A Rockland Avenue
November 18, 2015,
Present: Janet Simpson (JS), Bob June (BJ), Dave Clark (DC), Norman Clark (NC), John Edwards (JE), Vanessa Dingley (VD), Ian Mayhill (IM), Stephen Roughley (SR), Pamela Madoff (PM)
Absent: Sue Simpson (SS), Marc Hunter (MH), Dave McWalter (DM),
Invited Guests: Thomas Soullierre, Brooke Stark, Leigh Campbell; all of whom are City of Victoria Parks staff
Meeting called to order at 19:02
o Amended to hear councillor’s report after discussion with Parks staff
o Motion to approve as amended (VD/IM)
· Minutes of October 14, 2015
o Motion to approve (DC/VD)
· Parks Department presentation and discussion
o Thomas Soulliere (TS) has been Director since May 2015
o Brooke Stark (BS) heads Operations, including Arboriculture, Urban Forest implementation, noxious weeds
o Leigh Campbell (LC) heads Parks Planning and Development, including tree protection, greenways
o JS: concerned the Tree Protection Bylaw is ineffective
§ BS: Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) recently did a canopy coverage study to support Oak Bay’s Urban Forest Strategy (in development). Over the entire CRD, there is 18% canopy coverage. Saanich is currently losing the most. (Canopy Coverage is the measurement vertical projection of the tree’s canopy on to the ground). BS circulated information drawn from their database that listed the trees that had been permitted for removal on public and private land over the past 4 years, by species, for both Rockland and City-wide. In addition, there were listings of tree planting on public land within Rockland.
· DC: The stated number of trees planted seems low compared to what I’ve observed.
§ DC: are there any repeated measurements of canopy closure that will give an indication of trend?
§ JS raised the issue of the Atlas Cedar that was permitted for removal from a parking lot on Belmont Avenue. When neighbours’ concerns were conveyed to the Property Manager the decision was made not to remove the tree.
§ NC underscored that the value of the Urban Forest to the city at large is greater than the sum of the individual trees.
o TS: The current focus of the Department is on the Parks Master Plan, and the Urban Gardening Guidelines.
o Recruitment of new park area within Rockland. TS: Parks is determining current inventory of park lands, determining needs by neighbourhood, and developing an investment proposal for council.
§ VD: Could mini-parks serve a useful function, e.g., donations of private land? PM: It is difficult because there is no vacant land, and would require purchase and demolition of existing housing stock, and that is not generally supported. TS: Cost of ongoing maintenance is also an issue.
§ SR: does Rockland get lower priority for park acquisition because of the large public spaces at Government House and Craigdarroch Castle? PM: Don’t think so, it’s just that there are a lack of opportunities for parks and easements.
o DC: what is the status of the Urban Gardening and food production initiative? Ans: Initial public consultation resulted in 90% support for the initiative. Report to council will be followed by a second round of public consultation and eventually amendments to policies and guidelines including urban agriculture, community gardens, fruit and nut trees on boulevards, boulevard development and maintenance. Elia Johnson leads urban agriculture policy development.
§ JS: What will be the impact on canopy cover? There are some mutually exclusive principles at play.
§ IM: Local food and self-sufficiency are laudable, but deer and other urban wildlife will impact food production efforts.
§ DC: Urban agriculture (cultivation of a portion of a parcel for production of fruits and vegetables) is now a permitted home occupation in the zoning bylaws.
o Noxious weeds – Parks staff (Thomas Munson) work with adjacent property owners to synchronize control efforts for the worst noxious weeds, including Japanese Knotweed and Lesser Celandine. Also coordinate with the Capital Region Invasive Plant Partnership.
o Tree Protection – JS: the current bylaw does not protect trees that fall within the building envelope. What monitoring and enforcement is undertaken for new plantings for mitigation?
§ TS: Every development proposal is considered by both the Planning and the Parks Departments with respect to the conservation of existing trees. Efforts are made to site buildings to minimize impacts. There is a Capital Tree Fund for new plantings. There is no monitoring system to track the survival of mitigation plantings, and no clear responsibility should the subject property change owners.
§ JS: Any mechanism for covenants or voluntary designation process to protect trees? PM: Heritage Policy can be applied to trees.
o Off-leash areas – DC: concerns have been raised about the popular off-leash area of Dallas Road, between Clover Point and Douglas Street. There is no alternate sidewalk on the north side of Dallas, and pedestrians sometimes feel threatened by rambunctious, uncontrolled dogs.
§ TS: Parks Master Plan considers this. Public engagement has identified this as an issue. PM: One proposed solution is to establish an intermittent split-rail fence just north of the pathway to reduce unwelcome interactions.
o The grant system was modified for 2015. What is proposed for 2016? Ans: Staff will provide a schedule for proposal intake. Develop projects and complete applications that align with the City’s strategic directions. Assistance in developing applications is available.
· Councillor’s Report
o 100th anniversary of the Bay Street Armory.
o Budget process is underway. Council is receiving staff presentations, and public consultation will follow.
o Jubilee Hospital Master Plan (2015-2035) is completed.
o Expedited Local Area Planning Process is based on current development pressure. Rockland is now scheduled to commence March 2017, with completion in 2018.
o Consultation on the proposed development in Cook Street Village is testing the differences between current zoning and new direction from the OCP.
o The City’s quarterly reports are a good source of current information on City initiatives.
o The Province has asked the City if it is receptive to a proposed downtown Casino.
o City Fire Department has shopped for a second-hand aerial ladder vehicle to address a vulnerability posed by taller buildings.
· Business arising
· New Business
o AGM Planning
§ Date – propose February 10, 2016
§ Venue – Grace Lutheran (to be confirmed, MH)
§ Featured Speaker – invite Frank Elsner, Chief of Police
· Poll the directors and membership for concerns and pass that information to the Chief so that they may be addressed in the talk. E.g., Ambassador Program, Seniors’ vulnerabilities, mental health and homelessness.
§ Attract other audiences, e.g., renters. Give them a compelling reason to attend.
§ Who plans to stand for 2016 board membership? (JS, BJ, NC, DC, SR, IM, JE, MH, VD)
§ DC will send out AGM checklist from last year.
§ Expand the poster display – do you have other interests that could be featured?
§ SR will provide Coffee and Cookies
§ Eileen Nurmi and Lloyd Ollila will be on the nominating committee.
o Pemberton Meadows Development
§ Adjacent neighbour sent a detailed letter to City, and copied the RNA Board. The letter was subsequently posted to the RNA website via the Autumn 2015 newsletter. The proponent asked that the letter be removed from the website, but that request was denied.
§ The LUC identified a need to organize the immediate neighbours to discuss and reach a consensus position. Because of the potentially large number of interested parties, none of the immediate neighbours felt that they could host such a meeting. NC offered to host this meeting.
§ Should the RNA provide a venue for such a meeting before the CALUC process begins?
· IM: the cost of a room is not a major concern, but the associated costs of organization and coordination are a concern.
· PM: There is an option for a CA/NA to have a pre-meeting, but the proponent would have to be included. To organize a meeting without the proponent is prejudicial and could be seen to be undermining the collectively agreed-to CALUC process.
· RNA could develop a generic checklist for immediate neighbours to educate them about the CALUC process and the options available to them.
· Committee Reports
o Social – Hallmark Heritage Society is hosting a meeting at 7 pm on December 7th at their new location at Craigflower Schoolhouse, 2755 Admirals Road. Admission – bring a tree ornament.
o Membership process is being finalized. New look membership form will be circulated for comment.
§ NC: membership renewal notices should go out soon, not in January 2016.
§ NC handed out a summary of comments regarding the no-fee membership option.
· Meeting was adjourned at 21:35 (JE/IM))
· Next meeting - December 9, 2015 @ 1401A Rockland