Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Planning in Sidney

I looked at the information online at the town of Sidney and I like what has come from the process. The biggest problem is that there is really one community out on the end of the Saanich Peninsula but several local governments. This design process would be more meaningful if it was done in a holistic manner for the whole community and not just the random and irrational boundaries that are currently in use

from the Peninsula News Review

New vision for Town emerging from charrette process

Work on Sidney’s Local Area Plan is progressing. The final report on the design charrette is now available online at the Town of Sidney’s website, You’ll find the Local Area Plan under Quick Links; from there, click on public events.

The charrette, an intensive planning and design session was held on April 30 with 35 people attending, including local urban design professionals, town staff, and community representatives participating in the all-day event. The charrette was facilitated by consultants from Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden.

Participants in the charrette were divided into three teams and were asked to address three topics: land use, built form and movement, including traffic, circulation and parking. Teams were given base plans, aerial photos and scaled foam core blocks to model building massing and height and given seven hours to develop an urban design concept and supporting plans. The charrette report provides a summary of the design concepts developed by the three teams.

A key component of the report is a compilation of the team concepts into a common vision. The vision is presented through a series of illustrative plans which will ultimately form the basis for the draft Local Area Plan.

The overall plan for downtown Sidney emphasisizes mixed-use development. This mix within the downtown will enhance the active and vibrant character of Sidney’s commercial streets, while also creating residences located above the ground floors for more people to live within the core area.

A network of pedestrian walking routes is envisioned to connect an internal spine of green spaces and courtyards. Enhanced pedestrian amenities will encourage more people to walk within downtown Sidney. A pedestrian priority area along Beacon Avenue between Seventh Street and the waterfront is proposed to further enhance the walkability of the core area.

A new Town Square and Town Hall are contemplated for the block bounded by Fourth, Third, Beacon and Sidney Avenue. The new Town Square could potentially have frontage on Beacon Avenue and provide an inland area for community gathering and festivities.

It was also suggested that consideration could be given to a 3-P (Public Private Partnership), whereby the former Town Hall site could be redeveloped for multiple-family residential uses in exchange for construction of a new Town Hall. There is potential for the relocation of the Fire Hall and Emergency Services to a site outside of the downtown, such as the town yard or west Sidney.

“It’s important to note that this is basically the minutes of the charrette,” said councillor Tim Chad. The draft report is not intended to be the draft LAP; rather, key elements of the charrette will form the foundation of the draft plan.

The Town has been developing the Local Area Plan for the downtown since October of 2007. The completed plan should come to a formal public hearing in October of 2008.

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