Decembr 2013 DRA Newsletter

December 2013 NEWSLETTER

The DRA Communications Committee agreed to start a new feature in the Newsletter, short notes on very local happenings contributed by residents.  Our second Downtown Highlight is in this issue and covers the Humboldt Valley.

We earnestly solicit similar items from you about your corner of downtown.  What do you really find of interest in your daily life downtown?  Here's your chance to share your thoughts about urban living in Victoria.  Discuss your idea with the editor, or send an article in to

Note from the editor :   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.
Contact us at

Robert Florida, editor pro tem, December 2, 2013
December Mystery Photograph
November's mystery photo was easier than most, but this one might make up for it.


Image by Miles Lowry
Here is the December Mystery Photo: first correct identification (what is it and where is it?) wins a $10 gift certificate at Habit Coffee.   Please contact the editor at  Good luck!

Any more tricky pictures out there?  Take a mystery photo and send it as a jpg attachment please (with the location specified) to the editor of the DRA Newsletter for the next issue.  Please contact the editor at

November Mystery Photograph Unveiled

November's mystery picture was taken at the Union Club of BC (805 Gordon St). It is of balustrades (neo-Georgian design) at the entrance.  Founded in 1879, the present building was opened in 1913.

There were three correct answers this month, and Allan Edgar won the gift certificate to Foo.



November 2013

Utility Work Downtown Near Bridge to Stop for Holidays

Recognizing the importance of the upcoming holiday season for downtown merchants and shoppers, upgrades to 100-year-old water, storm drain, and sewer service currently underway downtown near the Johnson Street Bridge will break for the holidays at the end of the work day Friday, December 6.

Related utility replacement work will continue in December along Harbour Road and Esquimalt Road but will avoid the downtown area.

Construction will resume downtown Monday, December 30 in the areas of Wharf and Store Streets from Yates Street to Fisgard Street. READ MORE

Victoria, BC, Canada


Installation of New Bridge Begins

On October 30, crews began installation of the first piece of foundation for the new Johnson Street Bridge. The 42-tonne and 34-metre long steel pipe, also known as a caisson or large pile, was hoisted by crane and secured in the bedrock. Installation of the foundation will continue until the end of February 2014. READ MORE

Bridge Open During Construction

The existing Johnson Street Bridge will remian open to pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, and marine traffic throughout construction. Crews will build the new bridge just to the north of the existing bridge, allowing it to stay open until the new bridge is complete in late 2015. READ MORE

Got a Question?

We're committed to keeping you informed. Visit the FAQ page for answers to common questions. If you can't find the answer you are looking for, please contact us at or 250.361.0545.

The Roving Refinery is a series of DRA social events created to encourage socialization and interaction between Downtown-Harris Green residents and merchants of locally owned businesses  These events are about getting to know your neighbourhood.

Free to DRA members. Free to non-members who register for DRA membership at the event.  Because of the busy season there will be no Roving Refinery in December.  

The January Roving Refinery event will  be at The Guild on Tuesday, 21st January, at 6 pm.

The Guild

1250 Wharf Street, Victoria BC
Phone: 250 385 3474

Sunday - Thursday : 11:00 am - 11:00pm  
Friday - Saturday : 11:00 am - midnight

The Guild is a relatively new pub restaurant repurposing one of the oldest sites in Victoria.  They have an amazing selection of draft beers plus all the usual bar drinks.  Their menu is slanted towards British pub grub, but with an emphasis on craftsmanlike preparation of fine local ingredients.  They have been getting a good buzz on the web and in the press.

Check twitter, facebook and our website for registration details.  We are asking for a donation of warm socks, or cash of course, for this event.  There will be a draw for a gift certificate at Habit, the coffee shop in the Atrium, and also in the 500 block of Pandora.

November 18 Roving Refinery at Zambri's

The Zambri's Roving Refinery was very well supported, with around 24 members attending,  We donated twenty five pounds of foodstuffs and $110 cash to Our Place.  This was the most ever raised for charity at a Roving Refinery.

Jo Zambri, Our Hostess

Jo Zambri, one of the owners, welcomed the DRA crowd and explained some of the history and philosophy of the restaurant.  We were treated with a variety of Italian starters, including very fine meatballs and a finger-food version of Caesar salad.  It was a very good way to counter the chill and damp of a Victoria winter evening.

All the dishes we had were prepared by Louis in the kitchen.  Four DRA members in attendance, Ian, JC, Nicholas and Pat, won $25 Gift Certificates to Zambri's.

Downtown Highlight #2

Building a Vertical Neighbourhood in the Humboldt Valley

By Ruth Annis & Andy Wachtel

Four years ago, we moved to Victoria and into the recently completed ARIA condominium in the Humboldt Valley.  The location, on the edge of downtown, was enticing.  The Humboldt Valley had re-emerged from parking lots to high-rise neighbourhood, anchored at the Inner Harbour end by the Empress  and the Union Club and the equally historic Church of Our Lord and St. Ann's Academy sites flanking Blanshard.

To this list of remarkable assets have been added a number of cafes - Cafe Mela and Tre Fantastico, a pair of Winchester art galleries, and adjacent  recreational properties - the venerable Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling Club and the recently restored and rededicated Cridge Park on Belleville.

As new residents, we were anxious to see how this area coalesced into a liveable neighbourhood.  We think that our condo represents a good example of how community-building is taking place.

The Aria
A new building like the ARIA means that a whole set of new residents - including ground level business owners - must look for opportunities to get to know their neighbours.  An initial potluck Christmas party demonstrated the level of interest.  That led to the formation of an ad hoc Events Committee that has spawned a number of informal clubs, now including a walking group, golf group, card club, movie group, table tennis club, Zumba group, Mom and Tots group, and Saturday Night Out group (which patronizes downtown restaurants we can walk to).
Special events have celebrated the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl, and children-oriented events at Halloween and Christmas.
Residents formed a Recycling Group and  have taken over  the refundable recycling in the ARIA, raising funds to support activities and events.  In this way, the ARIA functions as its own micro-community center, appealing to the diverse mix of working singles and couples, university students, young families, and active seniors  that reside here. 

Community Development Committee

Victoria Matters

Second DRA Public Forum


Last Week In January

The subcommitte organizing our Public Forum series has chosen to focus on issues around housing in Victoria for the next meeting, which has been tentatively scheduled for an evening in the last week in January next year.  Although the speakers and the exact themes have not yet been finalized, this will prove to be a worthwhile forum for focusing one of Victoria's major issues.

For updates and the most current information on this event, watch for the next Newsletter, like us on Facebook,  follow us on Twitter or check our website

Land Use Committee News

 Lisa Helps, our City Council member who liaises the DRA Board reports that council proposes changes in the new year to the Land Use approval procedure. The current  three person land use committee will be replaced by a Committee of the Whole for planning and land use issues. Thus all council members will hear proposals on alternate Thursdays to the regular council meetings. It is hoped this will provide more time for questions, to gather further information, and thus to speed development applications through the approval process.

1515 Douglas St - Jawl Properties

A CALUC meeting was held Oct 28th at The Atrium on Yates St. Meeting was extremely well attended, 49 concerned citizens were there and none spoke against the project.  Many gave very positive comments.
DRA has also received 2 letters regarding this proposal one from the DVBA (Downtown Victoria Business Association) and one from Firm Management representing 770 Cormorant St .Both letters strongly supported the proposed development.
DRA LUC has drafted a letter of in support  noting the high quality of the project and applauding the revitalizaton of this prominent space across from City Hall.

1075 Pandora Ave

No further news. Lisa said the public hearing will be soon as the developer has addressed concerns raised by the city, DRA and neighbors.  DRA will attend and submit a letter when called for.

777 Douglas St -  Executive House Hotel

Proposed lobby expansion and improved landscape. DRA sees no concerns and Ian will send a letter of  support for the proposal  to the city.

Bridge Approaches

Thanks to the intervention of Lisa Helps, we finally got to meet with the city officials managing this very important project.  Ian Sutherland (DRA Land Use Chair) with Shaun McIntyre from Merrick Architecture met with Victoria City Transportation and Infrastructure manager Brad Dellebuur and Steve Barber, Senior Heritage Planner to pitch an alternate plan for the proposed Plaza space fronting the Northern Junk project.

Our proposal was well received, however, ironically enough, the City folk noted that the contract had been already awarded for the original plan.  Our comments would have been perhaps more useful much earlier, but for months we were unable to get them to agree to a meeting.  Merrick distributed new graphics and DRA’s suggestions will be taken into consideration. Ian will distribute graphics to Land Use members and council for comments.

533 Yates St - The Reef Restaurant 

The Reef has submitted an application to amend liquor licence to allow audience participation ( dance floor and DJ’s). The Reef is located next door to the nightclub Lucky Bar. The Reef has been in business for 12 years and has had no infractions during that time. DRA’s will send a letter to the city in support of the application.

1950 Blanshard St
Ian spoke with Alanna Holroyd of the Greater Victoria Rental Development Society who is partnering with developer Knappett Projects Ltd regarding the above property. This property is part of the Burnside-Gorge district and shares a border with our Downtown district. This is considered Rock Bay and is positioned across from the SOFMC (arena).

Ian will be in touch with the Burnside-Gorge LUC and their city liaison Charlayne Thornton-Joe to coordinate DRA Land Use Committee attendance at any meetings. The developer wishes to hold a pre-CALUC meeting next week to gather concerns and suggestions. The proposal is for a seven story commercial/residential mixed use building.

Legislative Precinct (James Bay)

An Open House regarding proposed changes to the legislative precinct will be held at Coast Harbourside Hotel  3:30 to 7:30 pm on Mon Dec 2nd.


Here is something that DRA members may want to attend or participate in.  Check out their websites and facebook. 

Dear members of Victoria Downtown Residents Association
Like many Victorians, the staff and students at Stewart College feel keenly the hardship experienced by people in the Philippines as a result of Typhoon Haiyan.  We have decided to arrange a fundraising event to support disaster relief in the Philippines, on Dec 7 from 11 am to 3 pm at our school on Courtney St.
The Philippines FUNdraiser will take the form of a craft fair, bake sale and flea market, with snacks and entertainment.  All proceeds from table rentals, entrance tickets / donations and Stewart College sales tables will go to Shelterbox Canada to support Typhoon Haiyan victims.
We would love the members of our broader community to get involved too.  Different ways your association or individual members could participate include:
·         Rent a table ($10) to sell crafts or flea market items, or to promote your association to visitors
·         Donate crafts, flea market items or baked goods for Stewart College to sell
·         Volunteer a few hours on the day to help with the event, or from now to Dec 7 to help with preparations and promotion
·         Put up a poster (see attached) in your association meeting place, or in individual members’ apartment buildings (we can drop some off for you)
·         Share the event on Facebook, email members about it with a link to the website page, include it in the association newsletter, send a note home about it to parents of kids in childcare…
Information about the event can be found here:
·         Facebook Event page
·         Website page
Anything you can do to help support this event is much appreciated!  Jennifer Hope and I are the main organizers of the event at the Stewart College – please do get in touch if your association or your members are interested in getting involved!
Best wishes
 Kristina Stewart
Director of Operations
Stewart College
tel +1-250-388-7774 | fax +1-250-388-7728
850 Courtney Street, Victoria BC, V8W 1C4Canada
Philippines FUNdraiser - SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, Dec 7, 11am - 3pm at Stewart College

Next DRA Board Meeting
Remember, all DRA Board Meetings are open to all members.  There will be no meeting in December.  The next Meeting will be at 5:30 pm Wednesday 15 January 2014 at the Silver Threads Centre, 1728 Douglas street.

AGM Coming Up: 23 January 2014

The Annual General Meeting will be held on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 5:30 pm at the Downtown Community Centre at 755 Pandora.  Watch our media for details.

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