In this newsletter: Roving Refinery, Victoria Together Against Graffiti, Johnson Street Bridge Update, Downtown Public Markets, and much more!
March 2012
Victoria Downtown Residents Association
Newsletter
Hi Bryan (DRA Member),
Welcome to our new e-news format! It arrives on the heels of the launch of our new website!
 
As always, if you see anything you'd like more information on, or would like to get involved in any of the activities, events or committees mentioned, please get in touch!
 
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DRA BOARD MEETINGS
Throughout 2012, monthly Board Meetings will be held on the 4th Wednesday of every month at Silver Threads at 1728 Douglas Street (not the retail unit on the corner, but the larger office to the south). Meetings start at 7:00 pm and once the meetings commence, the front doors are locked (for security reasons). 
 
Meetings may be rescheduled from time to time, in consideration of holidays and other commitments. The date for each meeting is confirmed the month prior at the Board Meeting. 
 
DRA Members and those who are interested in joining the DRA are welcome to attend.

The March meeting is on Wednesday, 28th March at 7pm at Silver Threads
 
The April meeting will be re-scheduled for Tuesday, 24th April, due to scheduling conflicts.
 

ROVING REFINERY 

Imminent announcement of the next Roving Refinery for April – date and time being confirmed.
 
The Roving Refinery is a DRA members' social event where you will get a chance to meet other downtown residents and merchants in your neighbourhood.
 

2012 MEMBERSHIP UPDATE AND DRIVE 

It is a new calendar year, so we ask members to renew their memberships and invite new members to join us in 2012.
 
For an updated membership form for 2012 please contact wdbowkett@gmail.com
 
Please fill it in, snail mail it, email it, fax it, or drop it off. 

All voluntary donations of $10 (or $5 for the under-employed and retired) are appreciated.
 

MEET AND GREET WITH DARB ERICKSON

On Wed 14th March, Darb Erickson gave an informative presentation on the two key items in his portfolio as a Downtown Programs Liaison with the City: Graffiti Management and the Late Night Great Night Strategy. If you have any questions or concerns regarding either of these two topics, please contact Darb at 250-361-0580.
Some key points on the topic of Graffiti:
  • “Graffiti is any writing, etching, drawing or symbol applied to any public or private property without the consent of the owner or their agent and as such is an act of vandalism and a crime.”
  • There are 200 graffiti vandals who have been identified in Greater Victoria.
  • Practice the 3 R’s when dealing with graffiti: Record, Report, Remove.
  • The City-run, Victoria Together Against Graffiti (VTAG) program provides a way for residents and businesses to ‘adopt a block, a pole, or a neighbourhood’ to keep the community graffiti-free.
  • The City is creating strategic partnerships with suppliers so that residents and business owners who want to remove graffiti can buy supplies at a discount.
  • Specific properties that have shown an unwillingness to address graffiti on their properties are being sent to Bylaw enforcement.
  • Partnering with Bylaw and VicPD in the apprehension of vandals.
  • Graffiti Hotline 250.361.0466
Highlights from the Late Night Great Night initiative:
  • Late night taxi stands will continue to operate, although locations may change to reflect actual flow of traffic.
  • Late Night Ambassadors will play a dominant role in the street-side experience of the late night taxi stands.
  • Improved coordination of the Multi-Agency Task force (Police, Fire, Bylaw and Liquor Board) should result in greater communication and efficiencies in dealing with problems and violations.
  • Use of positive messaging to encourage social responsibility and minimize undesirable behaviours.
  • The City supports the efforts of groups that are offering evening and late night activity in the downtown (non-liquor focused activities).


GARDENS & GREEN SPACES

1. DRA Container Gardening Workshop 
On Wednesday 29th February, Amy Crook (M.S. Certified Master Gardener) held an informative container gardening workshop teaching and creating a take home container vegetable garden.  The workshop focused on motivating participants to grow their own food using practical skill building techniques, and emphasized success, not sophistication.  All materials for the class were provided and participants went home with a container vegetable garden in hand.  Some informative points that the workshop covered were:
  • Any type of container can be used as long as it has drainage holes and is large enough.
  • A "soilless" potting mix work best for container gardening because it drains quickly, is lightweight and free from soil-borne diseases.
  • Depending on the plant, a minimum of 5 hours of direct sunlight each day will benefit the container garden.
  • Liquid fertilizer with a variety of nutrients is necessary since potting mix drains water rapidly.
  • Most container gardens need watering on a daily basis to retain moisture. 
  • Growing vertical gardens is possible if adequate support structures are used such as a trellis.
  • Types of vegetables that grow best in containers are: small salad greens (lettuce, arugula, mustard cress, etc.); maturing vegetables (cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc); root vegetables (baby carrots, radishes, potatoes, etc.); herbs (tarragon, parsley, cilantro, etc.)
2. Composting 101
Did you know that…
 
Kitchen and yard wastes typically comprise about 1/3 of household garbage.  If we all composted kitchen and yard waste, in addition to recycling paper, bottles, plastic and cans, we could reduce the amount of garbage destined for the landfill by 50%. By returning organic matter to the soil instead of sending it to the landfill, we can turn waste into a valuable and versatile resource. 
 
The DRA will be hosting a Composting 101 workshop designed for the urban gardener. Details will be posted to our Facebook Page when they are confirmed.


LAND USE COMMITTEE

840 Fort Street – The Sawyer Residences 
Owner: 0742170 BC Ltd with Hillel Architecture
 
1312 Government St – New England Hotel 
Le Fevre & Company with de Hoog and Kierulf Architects
CALUC Meeting at Silver Threads (1728 Douglas St) Tuesday March 13th at 7 PM

603 Pandora Ave – Plaza Hotel/Monty’s 
Eric Barker Architects - Updated design
 
769 Pandora Ave 
GMC Projects – Rental Units


VICTORIA TOGETHER AGAINST GRAFFITI (VTAG)

The VTAG program is a volunteer program formed by residents who wish to improve the appearance of their neighbourhoods by painting out graffiti on power poles along their streets.  The program is facilitated by the City of Victoria in cooperation with Victoria Police Department’s Block Watch program.  BC Hydro supports the program and has consented to their poles being painted in a prescribed manner.
 
Graffiti tags are not art; they are a form of vandalism that degrades the appearance of our community. The deterioration and lack of respect for the public and private property tends to promote an increase in graffiti, vandalism and disrespectful behaviour in general.  Where it is perceived that no one cares about a neighbourhood, then people will tend to behave accordingly.  The result is a lowered quality of life, more crime and even decreased property values.
 
Those wanting to participate in the VTAG program should contact the Program Coordinator through vtag.paintover@gmail.com or contact the City’s Graffiti Outreach Coordinator at vtag@victoria.ca  
 
The paint and supplies you require will be provided.  This includes paint, rollers, trays, brushes, litterbags and masking tape.  


LISA HELPS – COMMUNITY COFFEE HOURS

City Councillor and DRA Council Liaison, Lisa Helps, has organized bi-weekly Community Coffee Hours and invites those who are interested in joining her and other community members in open discussions on a variety of topics. 
 
The next events are:
When: Friday Apr 13, 10am-12pm
Where: Solstice Cafe, 529 Pandora St
 
Please check Lisa’s website for additional information and other dates as they are posted.  www.lisahelpsvictoria.ca/


JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE (JSB) UPDATE

CITY ISSUES REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS TO BUILD NEW BRIDGE MARCH 16 2012
Victoria City Council has moved the Johnson Street Bridge Project forward, with a revised budget of $92.8 million.

The City will now issue a Request for Qualifications for contractors interested in constructing the new Johnson Street Bridge. Three firms will be selected, based on qualifications. Once prequalified, the City will work with the three firms to identify any opportunities to refine the engineering design to realize cost savings.
 
The Request for Qualifications will be issued today and close on Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 4 p.m. To complete the project by 2016, the contract to build the new Johnson Street Bridge is to be awarded in October 2012.
 
Staff will report back to Council in June with an update on the process and any proposed changes to design, scope or budget.
View more information on the Request for Qualifications
 
JOHNSON STREET BRIDGE PUBLIC WORKSHOPS
The City is planning to host a couple of workshops in April (dates and locations still to be confirmed) to discuss elements of the public realm - landscaping, trees, benches, public gathering spaces etc - that will come with the redevelopment of public spaces on both the east and west sides of the new Johnson Street Bridge. 
 
These workshops will be open to all residents, businesses, and anyone who uses the bridge etc. The goal of the workshop will be to gather input from the public about what their preferences are - ie more trees, more traffic calming elements, more benches etc, so the City can use this feedback as they move towards final design of the public areas.
 
Final details of workshop dates, times and location will be posted to our Facebook page when they are confirmed.


DOWNTOWN PUBLIC MARKETS

VICTORIA DOWNTOWN FARMERS’ MARKET 2012
Featuring local farmers, food and music!
 
Where: Market Square, Inner Courtyard
When: Wednesdays 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Starting April 4th until October 
For more information, check out the website for the Downtown Victoria Public Market Society: victoriapublicmarket.com/
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Thanks for your time!  We look forward to meeting you and seeing you at events and in the community throughout 2012!
 
Cheers,

Wendy Bowkett,
Chair & Treasurer
Victoria Downtown Residents Association
 
Copyright © 2012 Victoria Downtown Residents Association, All rights reserved.