AUgust 2013 DRA Newsletter


Note from the editor : 
Watch for the First DRA Public Forum, October 2nd

The First Public Forum will focus on the question of regional amalgamation.  It will be on Wednesday, October 2nd, 7:00pm, at the Victoria Events Centre at 1415 broad.   Story below under Community Development Committee

Since the newsletter will be sent out only once a month, like us on Facebook,  follow us on Twitter and check our website for updates and the most current information on upcoming events.

If you would like to contribute something to the newsletter, contact the editor at

Robert Florida, editor pro tem, 1 August 2013
August Mystery Photograph Contest

Where was this photograph taken, and what is it?  It's not too easy, but it is definitely in the DRA area.  Thanks to the helpful member who sent it in.  If you know where it is, contact the editor at  First correct entry wins a $10 gift certificate at the Bon Macaron.

Any more photographers out there?  Take a mystery photo and send it (with the location specified) to the editor of the DRA Newsletter for the next issue.

July Mystery Unveiled

Two sharp eyed readers identified this as a photo of Patch on Yates clothing store, 719 Yates Street.  Macarons were duly collected.

Next Roving Refinery at Foo, 17 September

Recently the DRA Community Development Committee had its organizational meeting.  It will organize future Roving Refineries and has lined up an exciting list of nine or ten potential venues. 

Since summers are so busy for members and downtown businesses, it was decided to schedule the next Roving Refinery for September 17 at
Foo.  Foo, at the corner of Yates and Blanshard adjacent to the Dalton Hotel, specializes in Asian street food, and has a well-deserved reputation. 

Can't wait!  Watch DRA media for details and registration.

             One of Foo's Curry Dishes

The Roving Refinery is the DRA's longest running  community development initiative. Councilor Charlayne Thornton-Joe created the idea about eight years ago and used to coordinate with the host businesses while she was our City Liaison. 

The idea behind the Roving Refinery is to create a fun social event for members by introducing them to interesting businesses in our area.  The plan is, over time, to visit businesses in all parts of the DRA territory, such as Old Town, Harris Green, and Humboldt Valley.

For October, look for an event at Tap House on Yates.

Previous Roving Refineries

Our last two very successful Roving Refineries were held at Chorizo, the Spanish delicatessen on Fort Street, and the Bon Macaron, a French specialty baker on Broad Street.


Bon Macaron:

 We Had Excellent Food at Chorizo

Downtown Activities

Hudson Wednesday Public Market Thrives

The Wednesday Public Market on the Carriageway that connects Fisgard and Herald behind the Hudson is operating at capacity.  It will be open every Wednesday from 11 am to 3 pm until the indoor market at the Hudson opens. The vendors and management are very happy with how business is going.  It is a great place to grab a lunch and restock on fresh local foods.

Progress at the Hudson Indoor Public Market

Construction is going very well at the Indoor Market.  It may even be ready in late August, but September would be a safer guess.  It will be wonderful to try the new shops and to visit old friends from the Wednesday market.

Food Truck Festival in Centennial Square

The last two Fridays, July 19 and 26, saw very well attended food truck festivals with a beverage tent.  The first one was so successful that many vendors were running out of food by 6 pm and those who were still serving had long, daunting lines.  Fortunately the beverage area was still functioning.

Typical Line Up on July 19
Congratulations to the City for authorizing so many new trucks and sponsoring this festival.  This was a good initiative--obviously well appreciated by the people.

DRA Community Development Committee First Meeting

The Community Development Committee (CDC) had its organizational meeting at the Veneto on 16 July.  They accomplished quite a lot. 

     Community Development Values

Some fundamental values associated with Community Development:
  •      Social justice
  •      Self-determination
  •      Working and learning together
  •      Sustainable communities
  •      Participation
  •      Reflective practice
     Founding Principle

The CDC focuses on building community events and activities to work towards a stronger and more resilient community. 

     Historical Context

The CDC, operating on an ad hoc basis, has had several successful one-off projects in response to specific opportunities in the community. For example, when the Bambu/Union site lay dormant with a plain chain link fence around it, the DRA organised the creation and installation of a community art project. Residents and neighbours were invited to decorate pre-cut figures which were then hung along the fence to add some colour and interest.

The DRA was also the original organiser of the very successful Chalk One Up for Canada Day event, which is now being managed by the DVBA. 

     Current CDC Initiatives

1.    The Roving Refinery will be organized by this committee.  See above for the next event September 17 at Foo Asian Street Food.

2.    Graham Briggs has been working on an initiative for the CDC, called Town Hall Forums for now. Some suggested issues are: Amalgamation, Sewage Treatment, and Homelessness. 
The purpose of the public forums is to inform and engage Victorians by fostering dialogue with community leaders, public servants, and subject matter experts.  Presentations by speakers will be followed by questions and comments from the audience. 

The July Board meeting authorized the DRA’s Community Development Committee two host two of public forums on important issues facing Victoria.  If popular, more to follow.

First DRA Public Forum, October 2nd

The First Public Forum will focus on the question of regional amalgamation.  It will be on Wednesday, October 2nd, 7:00pm, at the Victoria Events Centre at 1415 broad.  

The forums are free and open to the public.

3.    Membership Building: Block Parties in each of the three 'pockets' of our community: Harris Green, Humboldt Valley and Downtown.

4.      Walking Tours with John Adams in each of pockets of the DRA territory.

5.      "Meet Our Neighbour" Mondays

6.     Skills Sharing

7.     Resource Mapping for (new) residents

     Next Meeting of CDC:  Proposed for Wed 14th August 5:30 pm at QV (Diner at the Corner of Fisgard and Government).  All interested members are invited to attend and participate in the activities of the CDC.

DRA Communications Committee

The communications had its second meeting on Tuesday 23 July at the Veneto in the Hotel Rialto.  We discussed the Newsletter, Web Site, Twitter and other communications and divided up some of the tasks.  On the whole, we seem to be doing a decent job.  The next meeting will be in around ninety days.


Communications Committee
President Wendy and Editor Robert, Hard at Work at the Veneto
DRA Land Use Committee (LUC)

603 Pandora Ave: Plaza Hotel: Eric Barker Architects (Nicholas Harrington reporting):
The project to redevelop the Victoria Plaza Hotel into a Strata complex with ground floor retail was granted final approval by city council on August 25, 2013.  Jordan Milne project manager at GMC Projects Inc., the developer, reports: "Including all the necessary permit work, to date the project has taken two and a half years. Construction is expected to begin in early to mid 2014."
The hotel, at the southeast corner of Government St. and Pandora Ave. ceased operation in January of this year. It was perhaps best known as the site of the last burlesque venue in the city of Victoria, the infamous Monty’s Exotic Showroom.  Monty's closed its doors to the public just a few weeks before the hotel shut down.
Long time residents of Victoria may recall a time years ago when the Plaza Hotel provided decent downtown accommodation to out of town guests.  Since opening in 1911 as the up scale Westholme Hotel, the building has changed owners, changed names, and undergone several dreadful modernizations over the decades.

The Plaza Hotel as we know it today has been in decline for many years.  At its closing, it had degenerated into a revolting eyesore, attractive only to those who could afford nothing better.

The DRA worked hard on this project, meeting with the architect and developer three times over two years, and was well pleased with their responses to our concerns.  We had preferred an earlier version, which the City's Advisory Design Committee dulled down considerably (see the July DRA Newsletter), but the one that passed is still a good design.

As Ian Sutherland, chair of the DRA LUC committee, said at the City Council public hearing, "The DRA supports the development of downtown residential buildings in general and this project in particular should be a fine addition to the vibrancy of downtown."

 Good Bye Monty's

1075 Pandora Ave BCAA Site:  A follow-up meeting with developers and CEI Architects was held July 16th. Plans for both sites have been modified. The Johnson St building exceeds requirements for distances between properties, and the side windows that face other properties have been made narrower.

The Cook/Pandora St building has some minor changes including relocation of the stairwell. The concept is to have separate buildings connected with outside hallways.  It is planned as a rental property.  

Materials to be used, removal of overhead hydro wiring, safety and noise concerns were also discussed. The next step will be to go before the city’s Planning and Land Use Committee.  The DRA LUC committee felt that some of our worries were allayed. 

A Public Open House is scheduled from 3 pm to 7 pm Sept 18th at City Hall. Focus groups are to be formed to discuss Zoning Regulation Bylaws with the Planning and Development department. Pre-registration is required. For further information please check the Victoria city website under Community and Events Calendar.

Johnson St Bridge: DRA is waiting for city staff to set a meeting date to present the latest plans regarding the public right of ways and green spaces on the east side of the bridge. The DRA would like a more collaborative discussion with engineering staff, not the communications department.

Support for New Allotment Gardens
DRA has sent a letter of support to City Council in favour of adding new allotment gardens.  We hope the city is able to offer more allotments so that downtown residents who want to grow fool and flowers have a place to do it.
Culture Days in the Square September 28-29

The Victoria African Caribbean Cultural Society (VACCS) & Ethno Concept-Culture is sponsoring this event and is calling for community participation.  The organizers wish “to invite the public to participate ‘behind-the-scenes,’ to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, designers and other creative people in their communities.”

They welcome non-profit organizations, community associations, businesses, performers and the like to participate.  The primary goal is to promote inclusivity, awareness, engagement and participation in art and culture for all Canadians.  All sorts of activities are welcome and needed.

If interested, please contact the organizers.

Event Manager,
Victoria African Caribbean Society

(250) 884-0739 - (250) 813-2697 -

August DRA Board Meeting
Remember, all DRA Board Meetings are open to all members.  The next Board
Meeting will be at 7:00 pm Wednesday 28 August 2013 at the Silver Threads Centre, 1728 Douglas street.
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