Decisions on Snug Cove’s future
Some elements of the Snug Cove village design and transportation concepts plan can be implemented soon, and cheaply. Others will have to go through multiple phases and take considerable time.
Last Monday, council committed over three hours to discussing which of the 16 design elements and four transportation schemes should be explored in more detail and which should be taken off the table. Councillors chose the ferry marshalling scheme within the existing parameters of Trunk Road as a starting point and the ferry marshalling/parking structure with mixed-use buildings above as an option for the future.
By narrowing down choices and having staff review cost and policy changes, Mayor Bob Turner reasoned, the next council would be able to move forward on the implementation.
“We have received public commentary and need to reflect on this,” Turner said, noting that councillors did not have the benefit of having a cost analysis on the table before casting their vote. The idea was simply to look at the bigger picture and “say yea or nay to a series of design elements and reduce transportation schemes to two or three preferred options.”
The first part of the meeting was dedicated to the 16 design elements. Architect James Tuer, who had prepared the plan, introduced the elements and spoke to the pubic response. He said, “We need to see where these elements fit within the OCP, whether they are feasible and how we could make the cove a place that is more complete, a place for working and living.” As limitation, Tuer identified the requirements of ferry traffic, the heron rookery and parking parameters. He said that with the exception of weekends and special events, “the parking lots are underutilized especially when people have to pay.” Tuer added that in consultation with B.C. ferries it had been made it clear that car ferry traffic has been static.
Some of the design elements received enthusiastic public support. The south side village was one of them and council had no problem endorsing it. Councillor Doug Hooper said, “When we look at infill development, we also need to consider the revitalization of existing building stock. That is part of the design elements and we need to create policy to accommodate both.” Tuer clarified that the “intention is to allow two buildings on one lot” where one would face the lane-way.
Elements two and nine looked at the lot next to the ball field, considering its use either for parking or as a new building site. Council voted in favour of keeping both options on the table. The issue of parking was also addressed in design element three. Councillors endorsed the idea but questioned the location behind the library.
Design element four envisioned putting buildings on the north side of Trunk Road. Tuer noted that this was in direct contradiction of the OCP that currently restricts commercial development in that area. Hooper said, “We have to look at three issues. One is scale, the second is ferry marshalling, the third is time. I would advocate for revitalizing the existing cove first before creating new commercial space.” But with a view to the future, council voted to keep the option on the table.
Three suggestions for ferry marshalling (the double-lane ferry loading that would eliminate parking, alternating two-lane-loading in the morning and off-loading in the afternoon, and widening Trunk Road for ferry marshalling) did not receive any support. Tuer noted that B.C. Ferries thought that there is too much traffic in both directions for the alternating lanes option.
A multi-purpose lane that would enable alternative methods of transportation received a big “yes” from the public as well as council, even though it might require the widening of Trunk Road. Councillor Alison Morse wanted to know what transportation would be included and Hooper jokingly suggested a zip-line, but in essence, it would be a bike lane.
Creating traffic circles at the Miller Road and Cardena Road intersections received the public’s as well as council’s support. Tuer said, “Traffic circles at the end of the would village create anchors.” A suggestion to widen the road to break up the roadway and possibly include boulevard trees or a bio-swale was also endorsed. And the option to realign the lower portion of Trunk Road to allow for infill buildings was also kept on the table.
Design elements received a clear public response but none of the ferry marshalling options had a majority vote. Tuer summarized it like this, “Out of the questions and ideas we posed to the public, those ideas that relate to village design had clear and overwhelming agreement, and those that relate to ferry marshalling leaned to having polarized results.” But he also noted that no cost benefit analysis had been on the table and some people had cast their vote under the assumption that the all the schemes would be have to be financed by the taxpayer.
As scheme a envisioned leaving the curb and gutter the same, there were no extra costs involved from the transportation standpoint. Scheme b suggested a north side expansion of Trunk Road that allowed for on-street-parking as well as a multi-purpose lane. Crippen Park lands were earmarked for a dedicated ferry marshalling compound in scheme c. Scheme d envisioned the construction of a parking/ferry marshalling structure at the bottom of the Trunk Road’s south side.
Councillor Alison Morse said, “We have to narrow down the schemes but if we identify some of the options for the long term, how can we make sure the phasing doesn’t become the permanent structure?” Tuer acknowledged that some of the schemes would take time to build, “particularly when corporate players are involved.” He said, “That is why we have broken out the design elements. That was councillor Hooper’s brainchild and enables us to get started on some aspects of the plan.”
Tuer said, “In light of the decision made on the design elements, I would like to say that scheme a has a lot of potential, especially in the short term. We’ve identified it as low-hanging fruit.” Hooper also pointed out that changes could be made within the existing roadway. Morse cautioned that voting for scheme a might be seen as tinkering with the status quo with no certainty that it would go any further. But she agreed to keeping scheme a on the table for the short term.
Councillor Peter Frinton said, “You always start with what you got, I take the limitation with road width with grain of salt. We could widen it to the north to create angle parking on the side and there is room to have a double lane all the way down.”
Hooper said, “For the Snug Cove revitalization, we are looking at the existing village and what we need to do there. We can start with rezoning, better parking and double-sided buildings. For the revitalization, we can use zoning coupled with statutory tools, including tax incentives.”
Councillor Nerys Poole agreed, “If we start with scheme a, a lot of things could be done. We can look at the boulevard and bike lane. And we can focus on improvements on the south side. We can talk to the landowners and say, ‘What if the parking requirements changed? What is it that would inspire you to do this?’ And when the cove becomes revitalized, that could naturally lead into scheme d depending on potential funding from B.C. ferries or an increase in the cove’s tax base.” About the ferry marshalling complex, Tuer said, “It fits well with the idea of the having multiple land uses. We could integrate all of those into a compact form of development. The land in that spot is too valuable to remain parking.”
Council unanimously supported further exploration of scheme a and d, the other two options were discarded as the were not deemed the best use of Crippen Park land. In the end, staff was instructed to prepare a budget for creating a cost benefit analysis for the preferred design elements and transportation schemes. It is hoped that the next council can move forward with Snug Cove’s revitalization.