Notes from the second All Candidates meeting

The Community Association of Oak Bay and the North Henderson Resi9dents Association jointly hosted the second and final all candidates meeting here in Oak Bay. Again, I took notes but I know I missed a few questions:

  • Oak bay lodge
  • Bowker creek
  • 4 story limit
  • Amalgamation
  • Oak Bay lodge delay
  • Source of campaign funds, specifically developers
  • Secondary suites
  • Communication
  • Secondary suites committee
  • Role of council
  • Coordination of municipalities
  • Oak Bay lodge parking
  • Deer


Rethinking the Shelbourne Corridor

Shelbourne Corridor Map. Credit: Municipality of Saanich

Saanich has recently launched a project to rethink the Shelbourne corridor, or at least the section from the Victoria border to Feltham Rd. in Gordon Head. The project is partial update to the venerable Shelbourne Local Area Plan, last changed in 1997. To kick off the whole thing off, Saanich held an open house to ask for people’s opinions on what they think should be done. I managed to make the last hour of the open house and collected a few notes.

Clearly evident was that Saanich is still very much in the information gathering phase. Of the nearly two dozen large boards spread around the room that showed everything from traffic volumes to population densities and average ages to zoning, only one of them had a recommendation on it. That was the proposed Bowker Creek Greenway project, which confusingly does not follow the path of the now-culverted Bowker Creek beside Shelbourne. Not surprising, this was the board that attracted the most interest and more comments. All of the rest of the boards were about the current state of the corridor today, to help people with context for their suggestions.

To hep run the event, Saanich had invited members of the two community associations that overlap the study area, Mount Tolmie and Camosun. They had also generously given space to a number of community groups including the Bowker Creek Initiative, who have just launched their draft 100-year vision which partially overlaps with the Shelbourne corridor, and the Shelbourne Memorial Tree Project, who seek to remind people that Shelbourne was planted with trees in 1921 as a memorial to the lost soldiers of the First World War, designed to deliberately invoke memories of France’s leafy avenues. Also in in attendance was UVic’s Office of Community Based Research, who have been working with Green Map project around Victoria. OCBR’s Maeve Lyndon, who came to talk to Oak Bay Rotary about the CBR and the Green Map, Theresa, and Ken Josephson, who recently worked on the Oak Bay Green Map, due for launch tomorrow evening were all in attendance.

Beyond providing information, Saanich was also interested in collecting people’s visions for the corridor and thus the questionnaire they handed out not only had a few questions about where you live and how often you use the corridor and how, but had a large map of the corridor on the other side, for free form drawing and collecting of ideas. I don’t envy the planners who now have to decipher hundreds of people’s scribblings and make a coherent report out of it.

One of the groups clearly missing was Hillside Mall. Although they are wholly within the City of Victoria, much of the traffic that comes to the mall drives on Saanich roads. They also recently finished a new plan, although the details of that haven’t been released yet. Their Renovations page still says “Watch this space”. I also understand from talking with the Bowker Creek people I have talked to that their plans don’t involve daylighting the creek, which currently runs on the western edge of the mall, by Doncaster Road and Thrifty Foods.

If you want to give them feedback, they sadly don’t have the PDFs of the boards they had up online yet, but the Shelbourne Corridor page on Saanich’s website lists contact information for the planner in charge of the project.

Quick note from the Bowker Creek forum

Public comments at Bowker Creek forum
Public comments at Bowker Creek forum on Jan. 23, 2010

The Bowker Creek Initiative held an open house on Saturday to unveil their 100-year plan (PDF, 6.5mb) to the public and collect comments on it. They setup in an empty storefront in Hillside Mall, maximizing accidental discovery of the event and thus more feedback. Going to where people already are is a great way to reach more of them and I would love to see the bigger malls in town setup a semi-permanent place for such events.

On the plan itself, I haven’t had a good chance to pick through it, so I will leave commenting on that to another day but at first glance it looks very bold and thought-provoking.

Bowker Creek Open House next week

On January 23rd, the Bowker Creek Initiative will be holding an open house (PDF) to discuss their new plan, the 100-year The Bowker Creek Blueprint. Interestingly, they are holding it in a mall, specifically the Hillside Mall, near the Zellers entrance, from 10am to 2pm. Hourly talks at 10am, 11, 12 and 1 will be held about the plan.

The blueprint itself, all 125 pages of it, can be viewed online (PDF) as can the executive summary (PDF) for those in a rush. I haven’t had a chance to dive into it myself, due to other pressing matters, like the 5th edition of the Official Ubuntu Book, which I co-author, and that little thing called university.

Bowker Creek Celebration Walk

Explanations before we head out
Explanations before we head out

This Saturday was the Bowker Creek Celebration walk, co-hosted by the Oak Bay Community Association and Bowker Creek Initiative The walk started out at the upper parking lot of the Oak Bay Recreation Centre with it’s their freshly-painted lines and walked down the creek towards the mouth. The point of the walk was to showcase the need for a greenway or trail along the whole length, not just a few disconnected lengths. Sadly due having a generally crazy day, I was only able to make the first part, but I did take a few pictures, which you can see in my flickr set.

The demand for better access to waterways is not unique in the Bowker Creek area. Across North America there is an effort to “daylight” creeks, that is to remove the culverts and let them flow in natural streams along the surface. The High Country News near San Francisco recently ran a whole series on “rebooting” creeks in poorer neighbourhoods in San Francisco.

Site of Broom Pull – View Larger Map

Nearer to home, a group in Seattle won a victory about the Thorton Creek underneath the Northgate Mall. Too bad Hillside isn’t doing anything with the section of Bowker Creek that runs underneath the western edge of that mall as they expand. However, the BCI is hosting an ivy pull on the 27th of June between 10am and 12:30pm across the creek from the existing community gardens.

Belated post on the ducky race

Been a little bit busy recently with real life, so I have been sitting on these pictures of the Bowker Creek Rubber Ducky Race. This is the 11th annual hosted by the Oak Bay High Environment Club, but actually the 12th race ever hosted. The weather cooperated for the event, with a nice light breeze and beautiful sunshine. Given the low volume of water in the creek and the breeze, this meant that the race was actually up the creek, not down it. Of course, what you really came here to see are some pictures:

The youngest volunteer and some of her fellow volunteers
The youngest volunteer and some of her fellows

Urban Raincatcher Gazette with Freya, a volunteer
Urban Raincatcher Gazette display with Freya, a volunteer

NDP MP Denise Savoie chats with with a member of the public
NDP MP Denise Savoie chats with with a member of the public

David Lock calls everybody to announce the start of the race
David Lock calls everybody to announce the start of the race

Sonora and fellow student just before the start
Sonora Godfrey and fellow student just before the start

Students watch the ducks cross the line
Students watch the ducks cross the line
Oak Bay Mayor speaking with with a member of the public
Mayor Causton speaking with with a member of the public

David Lock marshalls his volunteers
David Lock marshalls his volunteers/students

Oak Bay Councillor Pam Copley speaking with a member of the public
Oak Bay Councillor Pam Copley

Students wait with boxes of ducks for the start of the race
Students wait with boxes of ducks for the start of the race

The ducks are in the water
The ducks are in the water!

David Lock announces the results
David Lock announces the results

Kudos to Sonera and David for organizing the event and all the people that came out and bought rubber ducks. It was a great event and hopefully this will keep Bowker Creek and all the work that needs to be done in the public eye and in their mind.