August 2014 DRA Newsletter

August 2014 Newsletter

In this month's issue:
Contact us at      Nicholas Harrington, Editor, August 2014

Calling All Contributors...

One main purpose of this monthly newsletter is to inform our readership about life in the Downtown and Harris Green neighbourhoods, and we would very much appreciate your support in doing that. We need you, our members and readers, to contribute content to our newsletter so that the information presented here is not only informative, but also interesting, timely, pertinent, and diverse.

Consider this your forum. Did you write for your school newspaper, association newsletter, write a blog, or always wanted to? Here is your call to write  about your neighbourhood and share it with our more than 140 subscribers who all call this place our home. In any case, please send your submissions to!

Contributions to these regular series are always appreciated:
  • "Downtown Highlight": Take a few photos and write a short piece on something of interest in our Downtown or Harris Green neighbourhoods.
  • "Local Citizen Opinion": Write a few paragraphs expounding your take on a local issue, known or unknown.
  • "Mystery Photo": Take a photo of something obscure in our neighbourhood.
  • "Roving Refinery": Attend our next Roving Refinery social, take some photos,  write a bit about the event, the venue, and those in attendance.

August Mystery Photo

Pictured below is a clock tower located somewhere in downtown Victoria. Please click here, and name the Victoria landmark that this clock tower adorns. The first correct entry wins a $10 gift certificate to The Clay Pigeon. Good luck!
[Okay, this may be too easy, but we do need to have some entries in order to award some prizes! - Editor].
Image from  
Next time you are out and about downtown with your camera, please take a shot and send it to us (as a .jpg attachment please, with the location specified) to be considered for publication in the Mystery Photo contest. Please send your submissions to
July's Mystery Revealed

Image by Rob Caunter 
The plaque pictured above sits atop a time capsule located in the Bay Centre downtown. We figured that the title "Victoria Eaton Centre" was a dead give-away for where the time capsule was located, so we obscured some of the writing and asked readers to tell us the year that the time capsule is scheduled to be unsealed. The answer, as you can see in the unmodified photo above, is 2062, Victoria's bicentennial anniversary.

Roving Refinery

We don't have a Roving Refinery scheduled for this month, but one is being arranged for September. Watch for the announcement in September's newsletter. Until then, enjoy this great summer we're having!

July DRA Board Meeting Highlights
[Thanks to Cathy Brankston for this content - Editor]

Business Arising From Last Meeting

At last month’s board meeting, we learned that the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) was looking for a residential strata building downtown interested in joining the reCYCLISTS program. To date, the reCYCLISTS program  has been collecting organic, and other environmentally sensitive waste from DVBA member businesses, and would now like to do the same for a residential strata as a pilot project. The waste collected is dropped off at, reFUSE Resource Recovery, located at 2111 Government Street. Several DRA board members living in downtown strata buildings have shown interest. Rates for residential strata collection have not yet been determined.

Councilor's Report: Lisa Helps
  • Some of the improvements suggested by the DRA and the City's planning department have been integrated into the design plans for the Kunju Development at 613 Herald Street. The garage set-back distance has been addressed, however the building frontage still does not line-up with the neighbouring 601 Herald building. DRA LUC will send a letter to City's planning department indicating that the DRA would support a small encroachment variance in order to improve the street frontage appearance.
  • City staff has completed the Harbour Vitality Principles Report. This is a draft plan for Belleville Terminal, Ship Point, and the Lower Wharf Street lot, considering suggestions from the public engagement sessions and present city regulations. Council will be asked to approve the draft plan in principle, arrange more public hearings and report back by September 2014. A link will be posted on DRA’s website. The draft Harbour Vitality Principles Report can be found here.
  • The Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Project Quarterly Update was on the agenda at the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting scheduled for July 24. Councillors Madoff and Helps were expected to put forward a motion asking staff to find a way to add more green space. As detailed last month, the DRA has been working towards this goal since the bridge approach plans were first unveiled nearly two years ago.
  • The new Storm Water Utility Program and Bylaw is a new funding model to promote sustainable storm water practices. The fees are to be based on details of the property and buildings on it. Everyone will now pay their share, which includes government and non-profits, who had not previously contributed through payment of property taxes. The implementation date has been pushed back to September 2016, to allow time for residents and businesses to complete their infrastructure changes.
  • Dr. Graeme Macaloney, has proposed leasing Crystal Garden from the City as the site for a new Scotch Whiskey distillery, complete with restaurant, tasting room, etc. Some zoning changes would be required, such as change of use. If the Crystal Gardens site is ultimately chosen, the DRA board has agreed to work with the developer and the City to expedite the CALUC process.

Land Use Committee: Ian Sutherland and Wendy Bowkett

Johnson Street Bridge - East Side Approaches
Ian Sutherland, chair of the DRA Land Use Committee (DRA LUC) spoke to Brad Delabure, City Traffic planner, some months ago regarding the DRA’s ignored input. City staff are still resisting any changes to the plan stating that the contract cannot be opened up for changes. Jon Stoval, principal of the Northern Junk and Janion developments, is on side with the DRA regarding these changes. It was agreed that Mr. Stoval be encouraged to send a letter to Council for the July 24 Governance and Priorities Committee meeting, stating his concerns regarding the impact on the 2 development properties.
Executive House Hotel / Bartholomew's Pub
A public information meeting was held June 25. 36 community members and city councillors attended to voice their opinions on the liquor primary change request, and noise issues in the area. The DRA received two letters from the Aria, a residential strata tower at 737 Humboldt Street. One of the letters covered the issues in the neighbourhood. The second letter gave thoughts on the liquor licence application. A number of emails were also received. The DRA LUC will send a letter to Council listing the issues mentioned and the DRA’s position. The DRA's main points are: A permanent "door person" position is needed to manage the patrons, the patio must close at 11 pm, and the patio expansion needs to be redesigned to mitigate the noise.

Hermann’s Jazz Inc - 753 View Street
A Liquor Primary application was before City Council July 24. The proposed establishment, to replace the former Army and Navy Club, is located next to the existing Hermann's Jazz club. The application has received significant support from neighbours. The capacity is 80 people and is not close to any residential units. The existing club is well run, and the DRA has sent a letter of support to council. The new club will be a sports bar, which adds some further diversification to the downtown area.

Jawl Properties Ltd. - 1515 Douglas Street
A new office and retail complex in the heart of downtown.  Designed by D’Ambrosio Architecture + Urbanism, this two phased project will include over 286,000 square feet of market leading premises and dynamic public spaces.
A development permit has been granted. Feedback from the City, community members, and DRA have been very positive.

Magellan Properties - 613 Herald Street
The DRA LUC submitted a letter to the City in May which outlined their concerns, some of which have been addressed (see the first item in the Councillors Report above). The DRA LUC acknowledged that the previous design done by D’ambrosio Architecture had been abandoned due to cost considerations, but lamented the loss of the former design's aesthetically superior facade. The fact that the building was set back from the property line in order accommodate small roof projections over the entrances to the commercial units, was criticized, as it resulted in the building's façade failing to line up with that of the existing adjacent building (601 Herald Street). The double width garage entranceway was deemed to be unnecessary given the 12 spot parking garage it will service, and the set-back of the garage gate and exit doors were seen as a potential security issue.
Alpha Project Developments - 920 Yates Street
Alpha Project Developments is proposing a 17 story residential / retail building designed by de Hoog & Kierulf Architects to be built on this site, currently occupied by the Philip Nyren Clothing Store. A CALUC meeting will be held on Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 5 pm, at the Victoria Executive Centre, 915 Fort Street. Rezoning will be requested as a site specific zone. City staff will mail out meeting notices to affected neighbours. All community members are welcome to attend the CALUC presentation.

New Business:

VCAN - Victoria Community Association Network
A new umbrella organization has formed, ostensibly to build a broader network from Victoria's twelve individual community or neighbourhood associations. The expectation is that the numerous individual associations could benefit from building a broader network to share ideas and discuss municipal issues that impact some or all of the communities in common.

Several issues of concern regarding VCAN were brought to the DRA Board's attention. The Board discussed these issues at the meeting, and it was decided that the DRA would send a letter to the Mayor, City Council, and each of the eleven other community / neighbourhood associations in Victoria. The letter would outline our concerns about VCAN, and make a few solid suggestions in the hopes that going forward, VCAN would embrace a policy of openness and transparency, and adopt an organizational 'best practices' approach to membership, representation, documentation, and communication.

Speed Limit Reductions
At a Special Council Meeting held on July 17, 2014, Council voted unanimously to support the motion put forth by Councillors Isitt and Gudgeon. The resolution essentially directs staff to prepare the amendments to Schedule B of the Streets and Traffic Bylaw to reduce the speed limits as previously proposed. Now that Council has directed staff to consider the implications. Will the traffic just move to another road with a higher speed limit? Will there be enforcement, or just a speed limit sign change-out? An implementation plan will ultimately be presented to Council. A substantial bylaw change needs to occur, which will require 3 readings at Council.

Next DRA Board Meeting

Our next board meeting will be held on Tuesday August 26, 2014 at 5:30 pm, Silver Threads Centre, 1728 Douglas Street. DRA Board meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month, and are open to all DRA members.

Note: We will soon announce a new location for our monthly board meetings, as the Silver Threads Service is relocating their downtown activity centre and we are looking for a new facility.

DRA Town Hall Meeting

This fall, the DRA plans to host a 'Town Hall' style community meeting in the Humboldt Valley area to discuss quality of life issues. Suggested topics for discussion include "Liveability of Downtown" and "Solutions for Downtown".

The following key figures will be invited to attend the meeting: Victoria's Police Chief, Community Development Coordinator for Downtown, Manager of Bylaw and Licensing Services, City Councillors, and our local provincial liquor inspector.

Look for further details on this upcoming event in next months newsletter, and on our social media postings.

Green Space Clean Up
[Thanks to Cathy Brankston and Lisa Helps for this content - Editor]

As mentioned last month, City Councillor Shellie Gudgeon organized a volunteer clean up of the overgrown 'green space' (east end of the Robbins parking lot) in the 700 block of Pandora Avenue on Monday, July 14, 2014.

Many local volunteers including our own Cathy Brankston and I, worked alongside Councillors Gudgeon, Helps, and Thornton-Joe, and two workers sent by the DVBA, to tirelessly saw branches, cut back the overgrown shrubbery, pull blackberry and ivy, pick-up litter and wholly improve an area that had become somewhat of a safety concern. The sight lines are now much improved. Many passersby complimented everyone on taking on such a large task.

Harbour Vitality Principles

The City of Victoria has just released a draft version of their Harbour Vitality Principles, based on public comments and ideas that we heard by engaging over 700 people through the Harbour Dialogue Open House, Ideas Forum, Public Survey and Technical Workshop.

The Community Planning Division of the City is now seeking public feedback on the draft, and encourages you to share your thoughts with them by viewing the draft online, and emailing your comments to, or dropping by City Hall (Main Floor reception or second floor Development Centre) to pick up a hard copy and complete a comment form. 
Feedback can be provided until 4:00 p.m. on Friday August 22, 2014. All public input along with the draft Harbour Vitality Principles will be presented to Council for their consideration in September, 2014.

Time To Ride Report

In May 2014, Carbon Talks came to Victoria and engaged non-cyclists to better understand how infrastructure and programs could be improved.

Time to ride: Creating a welcoming cycling network for everyone in Victoria was held on May 29, 2014, with the goal of soliciting feedback from potential cyclists on how the City of Victoria could better provide infrastructure and programs for bicycle commuters. 

16 modally diverse residents were recruited for the dialogue. The City of Victoria presented their plan and participants were asked to identify areas in Victoria where they felt comfortable and uncomfortable cycling. Through small and large group discussion and exercises, participants identified policy, infrastructure, and program gaps and offered advice on how to mitigate conflict between different modes of transportation.

This dialogue was held in parallel with City of Victoria workshops for cyclists and will feed into the City of Victoria's new Bicycle Master Plan. The now complete report can be found here.

Summer in the Square

Enjoy free lunchtime and evening concerts and events in Centennial Square this summer. 
Click here for your complete 2014 Summer in the Square event listings.

Free Lunchtime Concerts in the Square
Bring your lunch and some sunscreen and soak up some sun and free tunes. From classical to world beat, folk to jazz and baroque to blues, there's something for everyone. Join us for free concerts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon - 1 p.m. from July 2 to September 11, 2014 in Centennial Square. All Summer in the Square Lunchtime Concerts are “rain or shine” and are subject to change.

Dancing in the Square
Enjoy free dance instruction followed by dancing to live music on Mondays August 11 and 18 from 7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. in Centennial Square. Each week features a different dance. The event is presented by the City of Victoria and the Victoria Ballroom Dance Society.

Aug 11 - Instr: Roman Yue, Workshop: Waltz, Band: Little Big Band
Aug 18 - Instr: Bob Gibb, Workshop: Rumba, Band: MC2

NEW - Eventide Music Series
Join us Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. until August 14 for the Eventide Music Series. Eventide, (pronounced “even-tide”) is the old name for “evening”, and was chosen to reflect the timing of the concerts in Centennial Square. This free, new concert series highlights Victoria’s eclectic local music scene featuring sounds that may or may not be described as “idiosyncratic, post angular, electro gypsy shoegaze, with a twist of twee folk, and psychedelic freak-space pop”. The Eventide Music Series is presented by the Downtown Victoria Business Association, the City of Victoria and CFUV Community Campus Radio. More information on the Eventide Music Series can be found here.

Concerts in the Park

Whether you like jazz, blues, classical, folk or swing, there's something for everyone at Concerts in the Park. Concerts take place Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Holiday Mondays until September 12, 2014, between 1:30 p.m. and 3:20 p.m., at the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park.

Children's Concerts in the Park take place on Wedesday August 13 and 27 from 11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. at the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park. Bring a picnic, sunscreen and a blanket and make a day of it with the kids!

A complete Concerts in the Park events listing is available here.

Check out CITYVibe, Victoria's Guide to Festivals and Outdoor Events! 
Available in hard copy, online and iPhone app (from the iTunes store), CITYVibe is your free guide to City-sponsored festivals and outdoor events downtown this summer. Watch for the 2014 CITYVibe at local venues and at City Hall.
The guide showcases the many spectacular summer festivals and outdoor events that receive the City's annual Festival Investment Grant.

You'll also find listings for Victoria's public markets, free concerts and events at the Cameron Bandshell in Beacon Hill Park, Summer in the Square programming, free lunchtime concerts in Centennial Square, as well as events at Victoria's Royal Athletic Park.

Make CITYVibe your guide to summer fun in downtown Victoria!
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