In January 2012, the school embarked on a project to audit all of our existing facilities at both campuses and determine how effectively they are meeting the needs of 21st-century
teaching and learning. These findings then led to the creation of a long-term Campus Master Plan that was completed in early 2013. Over the course of the past three years, we have hosted multiple open-houses and shared our vision for the school in written articles, at meetings with the Dunbar Residents Association and the Dunbar Vision Implementation Committee, and on our website. If you are interested in viewing the master plan and related information please visit our website
The following principles guide the planning work and continue to drive our building plans:
- Ensuring that teaching spaces fully meet the needs of 21-century teaching and learning with spaces that support collaboration and a variety of learning styles, provide access to the outdoors, and are engaging. The inclusion of spaces for specialty programs in music, arts, sciences, and athletics. At the Senior School, despite wonderful public spaces, most of our classrooms are substandard and do not meet these requirements.
- Buildings that embrace best practices in sustainable design and encourage students and visitors to learn about sustainability.
- Commitment to maintaining the existing Senior School population. We are building better spaces for the existing population, not for school population expansion.
- Finding strategies to reduce the impact of school-related traffic on the surrounding neighbourhood. The dual focus of reducing the number of cars that visit the school and reducing the impact of those that do visit.
- Creating site use and building designs that minimize the impact on surrounding neighbours and create positive experiences for those passing by or visiting the campuses.
Past Steps and Next Steps
In early 2014, our Board of Directors adopted the Campus Master Plan and determined that our first priority should be improving teaching spaces at both the Junior and Senior Schools. At the Junior School, this involved continuing to restore the exterior of our two Class A heritage buildings and reconfiguring the classrooms within the main building. At the Senior School, the focus is on building two new academic buildings along West 29th Avenue. The Junior School project is fairly straightforward, but the Senior School work is part of a more extensive campus master plan. In consultation with the City of Vancouver, it was determined that rezoning the Senior School property, based on the Campus Master Plan, would offer the neighbours, city staff, and the school the most certainty as to how the property can be developed in the years and decades ahead.
Senior School Rezoning Update
After extensive pre-application consultation with the City and the community, in the summer of 2014, the school formally submitted an application to rezone the property from RS5 (residential) to CD1 (site-specific zoning). In October, the City of Vancouver hosted an open house on the project, and in December the project went before the City’s Urban Design Panel (UDP). The UDP unanimously supported the rezoning proposal and made a number of helpful design recommendations. The Dunbar Vision Implementation Committee discussed the project at their October meeting and determined that the requirement in the Vision plan for consultation on new projects was being met by the school and that DVIC would continue to monitor the traffic aspects of the development. Members of the neighbourhood have raised a few key issues and the school is working with the City and community to address these issues as effectively as possible. These include three areas:
Traffic: as with most schools, traffic during peak pick-up and drop-off times is an issue. The School engaged traffic consultants, the MMM group, to study the issue and help find solutions. With the population of the school not expanding and a commitment to decreasing the number of vehicles visiting the campus each day (expanded school bus program and incentives for car-pooling, cycling, walking, and the use of public transit) the school is committed to reducing traffic. The new plan improves traffic flow and decreases the number of vehicles passing through the 29th and Camosun intersection. Underground parking for 111 vehicles is designed to reduce surface and street parking and improve site access. The school, in collaboration with the City of Vancouver Engineering Department, has struck a Neighbourhood Transportation Committee to identify challenges and find solutions to traffic issues around both campuses. The group has met twice to date and will be making recommendations to the school and the city.
Massing, Set-Backs and FSR
The proposed new zoning is respectful of the intent of the existing RS5 zoning and attempts to create school buildings that are respectful and complementary to the adjoining residential forms. Set-backs exceed those required under RS5, proposed FSR is less than would be allowed in a residential build, and new buildings exceed three storeys. Massing is stepped and complements adjoining forms.
Schools are an allowable use under RS5, meaning that it is permissible, with indicated set-backs, to build schools adjacent to single-family homes. This is seen throughout the city where schools are located within low- and high-density residential areas. However, in consultation with the city and neighbours, it was determined that wherever possible it would be least impactful to put school residences adjacent to neighbouring residences rather than noisier sports fields and classroom buildings. As the master plan includes the construction of residences for students and their supervising staff, it was decided to place these building adjacent to the residential properties at the northwest corner of the property. Students in the residences are highly supervised and, based on our experience with our existing residences, these buildings generate very little external noise.
The city planning staff are currently reviewing the application, and we expect that it will be before Council in the spring. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Neil Piller, Director of Operations at email@example.com
Dr. Tom Matthews