Almost two years ago, the Falaise Community Association (FCA) connected with the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN) and explored the possibility of installing a road mural on Falaise Crescent. On Saturday, August 13, 2022, volunteers from the FCA, the GVPN, and neighbourhood, painted a mural on the surface of Falaise Crescent right opposite the playground entrance to Falaise Park. The park is located just up from Broadmead Village and is very popular with young families.
Full Project Slide Show
In this blog we wanted to explore the process involved in installing the road mural and celebrate the mural itself. Our goal is to hopefully inspire others to undertake similar projects across the Greater Victoria region and beyond.
Why a road mural? Road murals are installed directly on the surface of a road. This form of placemaking has numerous benefits:
- They help foster and capture identity of place by representing things that are important to the area.
- They build community by bringing neighbours together to help with planning, design, installation and maintenance.
- They beautify streets, covering drab asphalt with bright colours.
- And they have been found to improve road safety by encouraging drivers to slow down.
We will explore some of these benefits as we tell the story of the Falaise Crescent Road Mural.
Local organiser and volunteer member of board of the GVPN has been looking for site for a road mural in Saanich for several years. The GVPN has helped install a number of road murals in Victoria, but Saanich has yet to see a road mural.
With the support of local artist Desiree Shelley, a team of 40 volunteers from the Falaise Community Association (FCA), the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN), and the community painted a mural onto the surface of the road across from Falaise Park playground entrance.
We selected the site with care. This stretch of road runs along side a playground zone and neighbours had concerns about vehicles driving too quickly as well as cutting through the neighbourhood. As a result, the site is well-suited for some traffic calming. However, the road does not have so much traffic that the mural would wear out quickly, and does not have a centre line – it is important that road murals do not interfere with existing road markings.
The mural was designed by Shelley, who worked with neighbours to develop a design that reflected the identity of the street, and portrays a motif of yellow montane violets. The yellow montane violet was chosen because Falaise Park is one of the few places in the region where this rare flower has been found. It was identified by long-time resident and artist Tannis Warburton, who alerted the Ministry of Environment, and who is now honoured by a plaque in the park.
“The mural captures the identity of Falaise Crescent, and it was a pleasure working with neighbours to develop the design,” said Shelley. “I’m glad that the design of the road mural includes an important part of the history and ecology of the neighbourhood.”
Applying the Under Paint
In this way, the road mural really helps create identity of place, as well as educates members of the public about a local artist and some of the local ecology. Involving neighbours in the design process ensured that the final image captured the identity of the neighbourhood and contributed to the community-building component of this project.
“It was great to get neighbours together to install the road mural beside the playground entrance of the park and I’m looking forward to the response from our community,” said Stuart Macpherson, president of the FCA and co-initiator of the project. “The mural design captures a key element of the history of our neighbourhood and reminds us of the precious Garry oak ecosystem in Falaise Park.”
We had over 40 neighbours come to help paint the mural. Some stayed for a little while, painting in a petal or two, while others were there all day. We were particularly excited to have a ton of young people come out and each of them got the chance to paint their own acorn.
The acorns run along side the road at the entrance to the playground and neighbourhood kids can come and visit their acorns whenever they visit the park!
We love the idea of actively involving young people in both placemaking and helping to improve road safety! Acorn decoration continued for the entire duration of the road mural installation and was a fantastic way to involve everyone in the process.
Children Painting Their Acorns
After we applied the under paint and it had a time to dry, it was time to apply the coat of yellow to make our flowers bloom!
Applying the Final Coat
And it didn’t take long before our artist was applying the coloured striations in the flowers and the project was complete!
The Final Steps
“Road murals are a fantastic form of placemaking that beautify streets, build community, and improve road safety,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, volunteer member of the board of the GVPN and co-initiator of the project. “Neighbours coming together to beautify their community and improve road safety is community building in action. Research has found that road murals encourage drivers to slow down, thereby improving road safety. I’m very pleased to see this pilot project up and running in Saanich and am looking forward to evaluating its effectiveness.”
The project is a first for Saanich, and has been installed as a pilot. Phelps Bondaroff worked with Saanich to develop road mural guidelines and will be studying the impact of the road mural on vehicle speeds on the street. We will be working with Saanich to set up speed boards to measure vehicular speed over the mural and will then be comparing these results with data gathered before the mural installation. This will allow us to evaluate the impact of the road mural on vehicle speeds.
The FCA will maintain the mural and throw a repainting part next summer. Just another way in which road murals can help continue to build community long after their initial installation. We will also be monitoring the wear of the paint and use this to help us better understand road mural longevity as a function of traffic. All of the information we gather will help inform future road murals in Saanich and contribute to refining Saanich’s Paint the Pavement Manual.
The project was led by the Falaise Community Association with support from the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, and received funding from a Community Well‐Being and Placemaking Projects Grant from the District of Saanich. A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who made this project possible!
For those who are interested in full step by step of the mural, Teale also made updates about the installation on TikTok and you can follow the progress here:
You can see a full time-lapse of the installation here:
For those who are interested in more information about road murals and research evidencing their effectiveness in improving road safety, Teale has gathered a bunch of helpful resources here.