The William St greenway is a multi-use space that bisects Victoria West Elementary School and Park, with Langford Street at its northern terminus and Wilson Street marking its southern boundary. As part of the City of Victoria’s Greenway Enhancement program, improvements were made to the crosswalk at Langford and Hudson Streets to help slow traffic and improve pedestrian and cyclist visibility.
The Greater Victoria Placemaking Network coordinated the installation of two placemaking elements to support greenway enhancement: a colourful crosswalk mural at Langford and Hudson Streets, and physical literacy stencils on the greenway behind Vic West Elementary School.
Earlier this year, the GVPN invited neighbours to share: What’s your vision for the William Street greenway? GVPN community engagement helped to form our placemaking goals for the project:
1) to promote active transportation,
2) to support education in physical literacy and public art, and
3) to engage and inspire the community in creating a shared public space that encourages users to enjoy, linger, and spend time.
Identifying a mural theme: When individuals spoke of their experience with the greenway, the most common theme was the connection with the natural environment. Many noted their appreciation for the natural features (rocks for climbing, trees for protection) and the sense of peace it brings to users. Others noted the Educational Garden that was recently installed along the greenway behind Vic West Elementary, and the importance of connecting youth with the the natural world. With the themes “gardens” and “living with nature,” mural artist Kay Gallivan designed the mural imagery and led a mural painting workshop with Vic West residents and students from the elementary school.
Small groups of students from a grade 5 class helped position and trace the placement of stencils to create three designs selected by school staff. The first is a movement path (encourages a combination of hopping or jumping from shape to shape and tracing lines with your feet); a picture frame (encourages kids to make shapes with their bodies to fill the frame, or draw designs in the frame with chalk) and a large tic-tac-toe (kids can either use their bodies in teams to play the game, or find other tools outside to mark their moves).
One young girl began drawing freehand and wrote the word “SLOW” in the middle of the pathway. The message, she explained, was a reminder for cyclists to go slowly down the greenway because kids are often playing nearby. The girl was gently reminded that only chalk lines that were created with the stencils would be painted. Undiscouraged, and without missing a beat, she carefully selected curved stencil shapes and connected them together to create the word “SLOW”. We appreciate this young placemaker’s creativity and determination to have her say in a multi-use space.
We received lots of input and support from individuals and organizations in Vic West. Thanks to:
Mural artist, Kay Gallivan @kaygallivan
City of Victoria Greenway Enhancement program, Transportation and Engagement staff
Vic West Community Association (Food Security Collective Chair/Coordinator; Transportation Committee)
Vic West Elementary students, staff, administration, and PAC
East West Mural Fest
Vic West residents and greenway users
If you find yourself in Vic West, stop by the greenway to take a look, or visit the site during East West Mural Fest this August and discover all the great mural works in Esquimalt and Vic West!
Guest Author Bio
Molly Rose is a community planning consultant with an interest in creating spaces that help connect people to each other and to their environment.
Visit Molly’s Blog Posts: https://victoriaplacemaking.ca/author/molly-windrose/