Monday, July 03, 2006

Redevelopment at Town and Country

The concept being proposed for the Town and Country Plaza - where is the Fairway and Walmart - is in my mind a very good idea. The plaza is a very old style model with large amounts of open air parking.

The proposal is to have all the parking underground and triple the amount of commercial space and add housing. It is this sort of denisty that is what we need at some crucial areas in the CRD.

I personally would have gone farther. I would look at some sort of deal to take the south bound lanes of Hwy 17 that run between the plaza with the Fairway and the one with the Save on Foods and allow them to be covered over to connect the two shopping areas for the public. The new "village" concept for the Town and Country plaza would then be connected nicely to the other shopping area which has the Emily Carr branch of the library. This would add increased density in the area and make for an even more compelling regional destination core.

Ideally there would be on and off ramps underneath to allow access to the shopping areas. Also it would be good to remove the lights at Ravine way, the entrance to the plazas and finally at Saanich Road. Those three lights are a huge pain

The location is also a very good one to make more of a transit hub. There are numerous bus routes that pass through the area, but no central location where they all meet. A good transit centre within the core of the complex would benefit everyone. At the moment there are problems with using the area to change buses. Either the buses stop 3-4 blocks away from each other or they simply do not connect well in their timing. I take the #70 from the ferry from time to time and find that the bus does not connect with the #26 at all well. It is normally faster to walk the last 1.5km to my home than wait.

The location is right at the crux of several of the trail systems in Victoria. The Galloping Goose and Lochside trails meet in this area but have no good access to the plazas at the moment. If the trails were linked directly into the site, the public within a reasonable distance (2-3 km) will be much more likely to use their bikes to get there. As someone that has tried to bike there, the current access is just horrific. With better access, suddenly people in Vic West are only 1.5 to 2 km from this location by bike. It puts Specturm School less than 2 km from the area by bike. The Colquitz trail system is also not far away.

In an ideal world I would see the contruction of more public amenties in this area. This is the prefect location to have a large central library for the Greater Victoria Library system. It is also the right place to add another pool. And finally, it is a very good location to add another arena complex.

We in CRD are woefully under-represented in the amount of ice surfaces we have. We should have should have about 15 to 20 ice sheets to meet the current demand. We have 11 at this time of which one is Save of Foods Memorial Arena and just not that available for public use. I do not understand what a practice ice sheet was not build as part of SOFMC.

At the Town and Country area you could construct a facility with several ice surfaces. Have one with seating for up to 4000 people (a size that we need in the region), have another basic sheet and then have two smaller scale ones - there is a no shortage of uses those sheets would have for hockey and figure skating practices.

As it stands, two of greater Victoria's minor hockey associations are at their maximum numbers because they can not get enough ice time. Greater Victoria lags the rest of the nation in the up take of adult recreational hockey because we are short of ice time.

There is a good case to be made for us in Victoria to have a 15000 seat arena, but I am certain this is going to be a non-starter as we just had SOFMC built. But if one were to build one, the Town and Country area would make a lot of sense as the location for it.

There is a chance with the redevelopment of the Town and Country plaza to create a real and dramatic change for the better for greater Victoria. The time to have this vision is now.
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