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Third time the charm for parkade?

Sep 16 2012

The University of Victoria will take its third stab Monday at getting Saanich's approval to build a new parkade at the university's McKenzie Avenue entrance.

"I think they've got it now," said Saanich Coun. Paul Gerrard, who will chair the meeting when the development permit application is considered. "I went to two open houses and it seemed like everyone was a lot more satisfied with the transparency [of the proposal] now."

The scaled-down parkade is part of the $75-million Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities - a project that includes athletic facilities, a 2,000-seat gym, a multi-purpose field house and a climbing tower, as well as office and lab space. With three levels above ground and one below, the new parkade plan is almost half the height of the originally proposed seven storeys.

There has been little controversy over plans for the complex, but neighbours were caught flat-footed when they first heard about the parkade, Gerrard said.

"The community consultation was just not there. When the first presentation was made, people in the audience didn't have a clue what was going on because they didn't present any drawings or anything," Gerrard said.

"We sent them back and said they had to do more consultation and the second time around wasn't much improved," he said of UVic's previous parkade plans.

After being turned down twice because they failed to convince Saanich that the public had been properly informed, UVic hired a consultant and held community meetings to come up with a variety of options.

The new parkade would be 10 metres tall, compared to the original plan for a 19.5-metre structure. It would have 332 parking spaces (including six surface spaces), which is 177 fewer than the original design. There will also be parking for 64 bicycles.

Gerrard said some residents could still be upset with the parkade's location.

"It's the entrance to the university and that's what a lot of people were opposed to. So they'll have to do some major landscaping as far as putting trees in there to hide that building, even though it's been reduced," Gerrard said.

The Saanich staff report notes the university has committed to planting additional trees and the revised design calls for the use of vines to soften the parkade's appearance.

Municipal staff are recommending council authorize the development permit. bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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