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Facts: SD61 Surplus Land & Vic High

Proposed Land Deal

The District is proposing a “land swap” with the City of Victoria and BC Housing around Vic High. The School District is proposing to lease a 2.14 ha piece of land to Capital Region Housing Corp. If the deal goes through the proposed amount of school land will be 4.69 ha - which does not meet Ministry of Education Standards for a school of its capacity.

In order for the District to sell the land it must meet certain criteria including certain elements of community engagement - which have not been met.

Capital Region Housing Corporation is proposing to build a high density 155 unit housing development on its 2.14 acre lot, comprised of one five-story, one four-story and a mix of three-story town homes. The site is currently zones as a mix of R2 residential and open parks space.

Vic High Seismic Upgrade

The District is planning to do a seismic upgrade to Vic High and adding capacity to 1000 students. It was anticipating having some budgetary shortfall on the project, and decided to pursue the land deal to offset costs.

The District has communicated no other ways it could cover the costs of the project - and has heavily linked a need to do the land deal to being able to pay for the school. We contest this point - and will demonstrate where the District has funds to cover the cost of the seismic upgrade.

Community Engagement

The District held a single community engagement on the matter in June 2019. The community was outspoken and against the proposed land transaction and overall development.

The district is required by its own policies to have a community engagement where they must provide the following information:

  • reasons for sale of the property

  • use of the proceeds of disposal

  • projected enrolment in the District

  • impact on District education programs

  • impact on community use of school buildings

While the District cited reasons for sale of the property as being related to unknown costs of the ViC High seismic upgrade project, it had not yet secured the funding from the Province of BC. The effect was the District was unable to:

  • to fully answer the anticipated proceeds of the disposal; and

  • unable to fully answer the potential impact on community and educational programs, in the event that funds would be left over, to enhance school and community amenities after our contribution to the main project was spent

The District committed to supplemental community consultations once it had more information.

After the community consultation the District received word of the majority of funds for the seismic upgrade being covered by the Province of BC. The District announced it had a shortfall of $2.6M which it had to cover - and maintains it needs to engage in the land deal to cover the cost of the project.

No community consultations have been scheduled.

It is our position that the District has not met its policies regarding the sale of the land.

Public engagement

The District must follow Policy and Regulation 7110 https://www.sd61.bc.ca/our-district/documents/name/regulation-7110-disposal-of-real-property/ which includes consultation as well as information that the District must provide as follows:

  • reasons for sale of the property

  • use of the proceeds of disposal

  • projected enrollment in the District

  • impact on District education programs

  • impact on community use of school buildings

First public notification of the proposal was in the form of a public announcement November 2018 of a Letter of Intent, which provided high level information about the proposed land transfer and lease.  No financial information was included in the media release.

The only public consultation was June 20, 2019. The engagement consisted of a presentation by the District on the proposed land disposition, as well as early dialogue regarding future amenities at Victoria High School.  The public feedback was firmly not in support of the Districts proposal.

At the time of the engagement the District had not yet secured financing for the project – and was unable to consult or provide information on the following items:

  • use of the proceeds of disposal

  • impact on District education programs

  • impact on community use of school buildings

The District presented projected enrollment of the District and the intention of increasing capacity of Victoria High to 1000 students.  There were no projected enrollment numbers presented specifically for Victoria High.

The District presented the reasons for the sale of the property, however it acknowledged not having:

  • evaluated options or alternatives for funding the project

  • evaluated alternative academic uses for the land in question

  • taken action to eliminate or reallocate funds within the project to reduce the District’s  liability

Other areas of concern specific to the Districts role raised by the public during the Q&A session included:

  • student safety related to increased vehicle traffic in the proposed development

  • impacts to the socio-economic mix of students at George Jay Elementary

  • loss of possible green space, open space, and community space

  • lack of public consultation in the process

District staff were present capturing public feedback at the engagement and expressed all information would be reported to School Board Trustees. 

No details of the community engagement have been made available to the general public to consume or validate.

 
 

Facts: Ministry of Education Area Standards

The Ministry of Education have Area Standards which apply to any school which is newly constructed or altered. We have demnstrated the School District has not met the requirements for:

Available site size

  • The Ministry requires a school of 1000 students to have 5ha of total land and a school of 1100 students to have 5.3ha of total lands.

  • The proposed future state for Vic High is less than 4.69ha

Available outdoor activity space

  • The Ministry requires a school of 1000 students to have 2ha of outdoor activity space and a school of 1100 students to have 3ha of outdoor activity space.

  • The proposed future state for Vic High is still under design, but based on the desires of the District to replace the track field with plastic turf, and to build a 15000 square meter Neighbourhood Learning Centre our estimates indicate the available activity space to be approximately 1.15ha

Facts: SD61 Enrollment Projections through 2033

The last enrollment projections for the District was in June 2019.

The District’s projections show Vic High being greater than 1000 from when it opens after seismic upgrade, and greater than 1100 students from 2026 to 2033.

The following table excerpt is from page 7 of the District’s Projected Enrollments. https://www.sd61.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/91/2019/06/Capacities-and-Projected-Enrolments-by-Program-20-June-202019.pdf

Source: page 7 SD61 Enrollment Projections

Source: page 7 SD61 Enrollment Projections

City of Victoria Growth

Population Growth in Official Community Plan (OCP)

The City of Victoria is going through significant growth - a document which is guiding the process is called the Official Community Plan - a 200+ page document which details how the city will increase its population with the limited land available. The document is available at the following web page: https://www.victoria.ca/assets/Departments/Planning~Development/Community~Planning/OCP/Replaced/OCP_Book_2012_amended_Sept_2016.pdf

The OCP details a plan to increase Victoria’s population by 20,000 residents by 2041. It accomplishes this through density of the city’s urban core - and through adding density to designated areas, called “Large Urban Villages”.

The OCP calls for 50% of the new population to come from the urban core and 40% to come from Large Urban Villages.

OCP population projections demonstrate growth of approximately 20% in residents aged 15-24 between 2021 and 2041.

It is important to note Vic High serves the vast majority of the urban core and large urban villages - areas planned for 18,000 new residents.

Source page 21 Victoria OCP

Source page 21 Victoria OCP

Source: page 17 Victoria OCP

Source: page 17 Victoria OCP