Update -  January 2024
The pre-application consultation period through the City of Victoria development tracker, the CALUC process, and other engagement events provided the project team the opportunity to learn additional community concerns and ideas. Many of these are reflected in the current and will be reflected in the updated plans submitted to the City in early 2024. Below provides additional information to some of the primary questions or clarifications we received.

  1. Greenspace
    1. Preserving but also enhancing the greenspace on the Precinct has been one of the overarching goals of this project since its beginning three years ago.
    2. Greenspace includes the urban forest, open space, hard and soft landscaping and connectivity to other environmental aspects of the neighbourhood such as Pioneer Square.
    3. The quality of greenspace and health of the living environment on the Precinct has been taken into careful consideration into the conceptual design of the site to ensure it is improved and enhanced.
    4. Existing green space that sits adjacent to the Cathedral and provides heritage and significant cultural value to the site shall be protected from any major development. This includes:
      1. Any proposed removal of vegetation including understorey planting, shrubs and trees shall be replaced in a manner that maintains or improves upon existing biodiversity and canopy cover throughout the precinct.
      2. Cultural and visual heritage will be enhanced and reinforced through the introduction of thoughtful native and native adaptive/resilient planting palettes that are complimentary of the existing natural character of the Precinct.
      3. Access including permeability throughout the site will be based around connectivity between proposed additional open green space areas and pedestrian focused nodes/landmarks/spaces.

2. Heritage – what are the priorities for this project and how are you addressing the buildings on the site?

1.Ensuring the heritage buildings on site are preserved and maintained to current and future standards has been another overarching goal of this project since its beginning three years ago.

        1. The proposed work to the Christ Church Cathedral Precinct is to conserve the heritage buildings (extending their physical life), while simultaneously revitalizing the site with new development in strategic locations. As part of the revitalization of the Precinct as a whole, the heritage buildings will be preserved, restored and rehabilitated, using each asset’s Character Defining Elements (CDEs) as a guide. The conservation objectives for Christ Church Cathedral, the Memorial Hall and Yarrow Chapel are primarily focused on the preservation of these historic structures, including their various character defining elements; restoration of deteriorated elements; and rehabilitation, where needed, to allow for contemporary new uses. 
      1. Significant studies have been undertaken to understand the state of each building – including updated statements of significance, condition assessments sand structural and seismic design reviews – to ensure a deep understanding of how to move forward with each.
        1. Memorial hall- has been partially seismically upgraded over the years but requires additional work both for its current users but also any future users.
        2. Cathedral- as one of the most important heritage buildings in the city, securing the long-term structure to serve the community for years to come is primary priority. There is work that needs to be done to ensure this can happen including seismic upgrades, and program renovations. 
        3. Yarrow chapel -condition assessments are underway to determine its current interior and exterior state and future upgrades needed to extend its life.
        4. Deanery – while not formally designated, it has a statement of significance that has been updated and has been recognized for its heritage value. Its current condition and future repurposing opportunities are being explored to discern its role and location in the future.

3. Christ Church Cathedral School 

  1. How has the school been involved?The school has been one of the three core stakeholders on the Building for the Future Committee leading this initiative since the beginning. The design team has worked and continues to work with the school on demonstrating a variety of ways the school can thrive in the future of a reimagined Precinct. This includes enhancing the green space from not just paved play areas but other opportunities both on the Precinct and on adjacent sites and amenity spaces, as urban schools do across the world.  The school, in parallel to this work, is undertaking business planning and program planning to develop a long-term plan for enhancement of their educational offerings.
  2. Communicationsgoing forward: January 2024 will bring further opportunity for parents to engage directly with School Leadership on the current status of plans and future processes for visioning and design development.
  3. Construction safety:The phasing of development on site will allow for the relocation of portables and continued access to outdoor play space. Coordination between the School and other development partners and the team will ensure that the school will be safe and functional during construction phases. Construction safety and management plans are part of any urban development and consider access, safety and operational success of all partners as priorities.

  4. Access and Transportation
    1. Site accessibility:Improving site accessibility for all has been a priority for this work and functional access, such as waste management, is a key component of this. The plans reflect these needs, and improve what is not a fit for purpose access plan for current users. 
    2. Quadra Street:There has been community dialogue around Quadra street changes – and this plan has never encouraged the closure of Quadra street. Through conversations with the City, and neighbours, the vision of a public forecourt plaza for a safer entrance and experience to the Cathedral site is being proposed. The City has medium term plans for Quadra street itself that citizens can learn about through the City’s active transportation planning process.
    3. The proposed public forecourt located at Quadra Street is a mixed mode zone which will allow vehicles to continue to use Quadra Street and Courtenay Street as they do today. Successful examples of mixed mode zones exist in some of the public’s favourite urban spaces, including Exhibition Road in London and Vancouver’s Granville Island.  These streets allow for greater flexibility of uses and a more enjoyable, accessible, and barrier-free pedestrian experience, while still allowing vehicular traffic. The proposed design applies principles outlined in the City of Victoria’s Public realm Strategy and seeks to deliver community-identified transportation and access priorities.  

  5. Timelines

    1. Phase 2B will complete when the rezoning submission is submitted to the City of Victoria in early 2024.
    2. Phase 3 will be the rezoning process with the City which is anticipated to be at least 18 months given the scale and scope of this project.

January 28 will be the next public meeting at the Cathedral Parish for all who are interested in learning more about the final submission and what the process with the City looks like going forward.

3. The project remains on the original schedule that each phase will be realized with a development and building permit, with the first phase of construction beginning at the earliest in 3-4 years.

  1. Why is the Diocese doing this now?

    1. The Diocese is always asking how it can best use its assets to serve the communities we are a part of. As a part of that they have been undertaking a strategic asset management review across all of their properties to better understand how buildings and properties can better reflect current and anticipated community needs. Each community and context is unique this is done in conversation with the parish and history of each place. 
    2. The Cathedral has been thinking about what might be possible on the site for many years and the combination of opportunity, need, and a desire to continue to be a vital community for the city for the next 100+ years, provides a moment now to start the process toward fulfilling that vision. 
    3. With significant changes to the role of religion in our society over the past 50 years the future will not look like the past. New ways of serving, and new ways of sustaining the ministry of the diocese are being explored to grow and change with the communities that we are a part of, which by necessity must include how these ministries and the facilities that house them, are funded.
    4. Housing is such a pressing issue across all generations right now -  and we want to try to be a part of the solution to helping people find a home within their own communities.

- The Reverend Canon Ian Powell, Chair of the Steering Committee