VIC HIGH S.A.E.E.
SPACES AND ETHICAL ENGAGEMENT
Disclaimer: All Measurements Approximate
THE STORY: A GRAVEL PARKING LOT
The gravel parking lot behind Vic High was once the site of the Fairey Tech building, and has been used for education for over 100 years. Since the Fairey Tech was relocated in 2011, the lot has remained empty, covered with the rubble from the demolition. Although the site has been impossible to use for recreation due to a lack of maintenance, the Vic High Alumni started planning a revitalization for the 70-year old stadium as early as 2003. This plan requires a significant portion of the former Fairey Tech site.
In January 2018, with the support SD61, the Alumni announced the first phase of the revitalized stadium's construction, after reaching their fundraising goal of $250,000 (to be matched by the City of Victoria).
However, in September, 2018, SD61 signed a Letter of Intent for the proposed Caledonia Housing Project—a development that would interrupt stadium plans and other Vic High resources. Negotiations for this proposal began as early as 2016.
The School District claims the proposed lease is needed to offset a funding shortfall for Vic High's seismic upgrade. However, our research shows the funding shortfall is questionable.
THE ISSUE: AN ETHICAL DILEMMA
It's complicated. Affordable housing and the wealth gap are the central issues facing Victoria today, and they disproportionately affect young people and families.
In reaching out to community members and activists to support our cause, we have found Victoria residents are reluctant to oppose the possibility of more affordable housing, given the urgency of the problem. Very few affordable housing alternatives have been presented to the community, making this proposed project seems necessary, especially if the land appears to be unused and unneeded by Vic High.
However, we feel that the public should not have to choose between education and housing. Our community has been handed an unfair ethical dilemma. Although the gravel parking lot has been neglected for almost a decade, volunteers were on the edge of realizing a dream that would expand Vic High's educational resources, and create facilities that benefit the whole community.
THE PROCESS: TRANSPARENCY & CHOICE
The Long Term Facilities Plan for SD61 recommends that students are consulted regarding new facilities at their school. Vic High students were formally consulted about the seismic upgrade and amenities, as well as the Alumni's stadium revitalization project. Yet, Vic High students were not formally consulted about the proposed lease, or informed about the effect that the proposed housing could have on educational resources such as their vegetable garden.
Part of Vic High's seismic upgrade, starting in August, 2020, requires the construction of a Neighbourhood Learning Centre (NLC), a childcare facility. If the proposed housing is built, the NLC would have to be built on the northeast corner of Vic High, which is where the student vegetable garden is located.
To date, the public has not seen images of the NLC. This facility, according to documents we have received through Freedom of Information requests, includes sixty-four parking stalls—information that was not shared with the public during consultations. Additionally, the NLC has been advertised as a benefit of the housing project, although funding for the NLC is included in funding for Vic High's seismic upgrade.
Transparency is lacking regarding the funding shortfall of $2.6M; to date, a budget that accounts for this shortfall has been withheld from the public. According to the School District's own documents, Vic High was supposed to receive full funding from the Ministry of Education for its seismic upgrade.
OUR SUGGESTION: NO NEED TO COMPROMISE
The City of Victoria and the Province have recently purchased private properties to provide immediate relief to un-housed families and individuals during COVID19. At the $15M site of Paul's Motor Inn, 75 individuals will soon have a safe environment to call home.
This model of purchasing private, already-constructed property is ideal for the $50M allotted to the proposed Caledonia Project. In fact,
with this strategy, the Capital Region Housing Corporation could start gathering a network of housing immediately to help offset the affordability crisis. With the existing plan, which requires
construction, families in need of housing must
wait an additional two years.
By redirecting this affordable housing initiative,
Vic High can keep the veggie garden, keep the
plans for the full metric track, build the NLC on
the former Fairey Tech site, with space to spare (for, say, a skatepark).
Vic High students deserve better, and families in need of affordable housing deserve a government that responds to their needs with a viable plan.
There is no moral high ground
in a conversation regarding
education "versus" housing.
These two issues are
Why compromise when we can mobilize to achieve both?
LOOKING FOR MORE INFO?
Click these icons to open discussions, letters and documents.
Vic High's Seismic Upgrade
Project Definition Report. This 115 page report details the options for Vic High's seismic upgrade.
Freedom of Information
Requests and Responses, including documents not previously available to the public.
March, 2018 seismic upgrade information for the public. Compare this information with the facts in the Project Definition Report
"School Rejuvenation Strategy": Censored list of 29 SD61 schools considered for land leases (p. 12)
SD61 has claimed that Vic High's seismic upgrade has a $2.6M
funding shortfall. Does evidence support this claim?
(see p. 18 for list of issues)
Letters to Mayor and Council
Letter to School District 61 Trustees
A 10-Slide presentation that shows the area requirements for Vic High's metric track and how the proposed 8m easement encroaches on the area requirements.
The impact of the proposed
eight-metre "easement" on Vic High's Revitalized Stadium Project
Does Vic High need $1.08M from the proposed lease to the CRHC to pay for a few amenities? Why weren't Vic High's "amenities" included in SD61's application to the Ministry of Education for seismic upgrade funding?
To date, School District 61 is unable to produce documents to prove their claim that they considered alternative means of funding the $2.6M shortfall.
Focus Magazine Article
“What happened to the promise of a metric track for Vic High?”
Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) document that claims the
8-metre easement would remain part of Vic High grounds for "educational purposes."