40 keen Greater Victoria placemakers gathered on the evening of September 28 to kick off an ambitious fall calendar for our one-year-old network.
Hosted in the gorgeously creative space of The Watershed, the gathering featured small group work on key projects as well as social time over Phillips draft beers and munchies from O.J.’s Organics.
After Lorne Daniel summarized the group’s first year, volunteers Ray Straatsma, Rayleen Lister, Jim LaMorte, Andy Guiry and Emmy Marshall-Hill facilitated the group discussions and project planning. Here are some highlights of the projects and upcoming events.
Great Streets & Places Pop-Up
It’s a go! Our Pop-Up event on Cook St. from Dallas Road to Woodstock Ave. will happen on Sunday, November 1, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. During that time, we will set up and test new street configurations for Cook (including Victoria’s first “parking protected bike lane”), new crossings, a 3 way stop at Cook and Dallas, and a neighbourhood / park gathering space on the waterfront, just south of the Dallas / Cook intersection.
Partners on the initiative are The City of Victoria, Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, and Fairfield Gonzales Community Association. The consulting team that is doing design work on Victoria’s priority bike network will be there, getting feedback from cyclists and others on bike route locations and design.
We will videotape the activity and interview people as part of our longer term project to help The City of Victoria develop a process and materials for frequent, quick, on-street pop-ups and pilot projects.
Join us for the day – and if you can help out with set-up of traffic cones, signage, tables and such that would be great!
Mark your calendar for Wednesday, November 4: internationally renowned urban planner Brent Toderian will join us for an afternoon walk-and-talk, followed by a free public presentation at Open Space.
Brent Toderian‘s six years as Vancouver’s Chief Planner included EcoDensity and Greenest City Initiatives; new visions multi-modal mobility and active transportation (walk, bike and transit); placemaking, public place design and street activation strategies. The event is co-sponsored by Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition, with financial support from The City of Victoria and the District of Saanich.
Plus, we will be co-hosting an urban discovery evening with the Urban Development Club of the University of Victoria on Friday, November 27. Watch for details.
Neighbourhood and urban village planning
Greater Victoria’s neighbourhoods and urban villages are each unique. They are an important part of what makes the Capital Region a delightful place to live. Which is why people who live, work and play in these urban clusters are passionate about their past, present and future.
How do we best do citizen and place-based urban planning? That was the focus of one small group’s discussion, bringing together conversations that have been held with many neighbourhood associations, individuals and planners across the region in recent months. Participants brainstormed processes and projects that could help each urban village move forward.
An example of this is our collaboration with The City of Victoria and North Park Neighbourhood Association on the design of a ‘village centre’ on Cook St, from Pandora Ave to Caledonia.
Tactical urbanism means taking short-term action (with or without official permission) to identify urban design that needs a fix or rethink. It’s not about ‘protest’ – it’s about creative movement towards improved cities. Greater Victorians are all over tactical urbanism, based on participation in our ‘chair-bombing’ events and the Make It Happen session led by Rayleen Lister.
A number of possibilities are in the works. One example: building on the urban discovery walks we have done through the downtown passages and plazas that connect Greater Victoria Public Library (Central branch) through mid-block crossings over to Pandora Ave. Along the way are a fascinating mix of businesses, public spaces (many of them presenting great opportunity for improvement), parkades (with limited wayfinding) and newly improved spaces like Millie’s Lane.
What if, our group wondered, we did some real wayfinding through this route? Gave it a creative name? Brought in businesses as partners? Stencilled footprints on the route? Held a series of gatherings in the public spaces? It sounds intriguing. The tactical urbanism team will be pursuing this and more.
Open Streets 2016
We have a discussion group looking into the potential for a series of Open Streets initiatives across the Capital Region in the summer of 2016 (and, hopefully, every summer thereafter). Open Streets initiatives temporarily close neighbourhood and connector streets to vehicle traffic so that people can get out and enjoy them for walking, biking, playing, doing yoga, or whatever appeals.
The Open Streets Project notes that there are more than 100 documented initiatives in North America and cities are discovering significant benefits to personal and environmental health through them. Our discussion group talked about the potential for “village to village” routes that would link some of Greater Victoria’s urban villages with car-free routes on summer Sundays. As an example, a combination of Superior and Southgate would allow people to walk / rollerblade / cycle from Cook St. Village across the north edge of Beacon Hill Park to James Bay Village.
How you can Make It Happen
At the meeting, we also talked about what resources, skills and time that volunteers can offer to ‘Make It Happen.’ Based on a volunteer roles listing developed by Jim LaMorte, we signed people up for lead and support roles. As a volunteer-operated citizens’ group, we can always use your help, so get in touch if you have skills to offer. A couple key roles that need to be filled include someone with a bookkeeping background to track our modest funds, and a volunteer / membership coordinator to help herd the cats.
Step right up! Get in touch via our Contact form, right here.