The ViewPointe Estates subdivision is teaching us a few things about community planning: when developers come knocking to alter existing zoning do the calculations confirming their assertion that a net community improvement awaits.
The impact this development will have on the pre-existing neighbourhoods of Sookies, their safety and the quality of life that their existing residential zoning afforded them appears not to have been well thought out when previous Sooke council adopted a zoning that has created the traffic problem that is pitting neighbours against neighbours.
Without dedicated access, the developer relies upon existing residential streets to serve the new subdivision’s needs.
Most of these pre-1990s roads have no sidewalk infrastructure, and would not pass as adequate if built today. Winfield, Maple Park Terrace, Rudd, Melrick, Maple Ave N, Larkspur, French Road S, Firwood, Cedar Park Terrace, Henlyn, Beaton are now expected to handle traffic flow from houses that are building out as – to no surprise – suited duplexes.
With each lot containing a minimum of four connected residences, it is clear that this development is not fitting into the neighbourhood as planned.
Currently, the promised build out can promise only one thing for sure – more cars. It would be worthwhile knowing if the district bylaw enforcement office has a record of the number of suites and the number of onsite parking spaces subsequently legally required for these properties. Judging by the curbside parking situation, I would say not.
The developer’s traffic impact assessment, formulated around “136 single family detached lots” with one trip per lot at peak trip generation, failed to include the Mountain Heights/Foreman Heights access as any part of the equation despite these roads now being the primary access point for the upper part of the development.
Did our district engineers and planners really take a hard look at how this development would affect its most immediate neighbours? Are the residents of Foreman Heights/Mountain Heights willing to bail out the consequences of an incomplete traffic study?
The influence of this development on its neighbouring community is currently shaping up to be a substantially negative one.
The responsibility to correct the traffic woes falls upon both the district and the developer to revisit the bylaw contents (particularly the accuracy of the Watt Consulting Group traffic report), evaluate the current and projected community concerns given the realities of what neighbourhoods are now experiencing, and to implement wise and genuine solutions that recognize the unsustainable traffic patterns that demand remediation.
As a neighbour, the following suggestions are a starting point:
• District staff need to review all aspects of the Watt traffic study, and hold the developer accountable to reflect the actual traffic flow. Additionally, the impact on neighbouring streets must be fully examined with solutions provided.
• Adopting a 30 km/h speed and speed bumps on all residential roads influenced by this development.
• District bylaw enforcement needs to inventory suites present in ViewPointe construction, and take immediate action to address the number of permitted suites and the onsite parking expectations resulting.
• Those residential roads connecting ViewPointe to Grant/Otter Point roads must immediately be provided with sidewalks. Expecting children and the elderly to safely negotiate overburdened side streets being used to meet the needs of ViewPointe’s cars is no joke. This needs to be initiated immediately.
All Sookies impacted negatively by this traffic problem need to unite as a force and present a unified voice to both district and ViewPointe representatives. It is clear that this development is evolving into something not envisioned by our community.
Chris Bryant is a Sooke resident.