January 2015 DRA Newsletter

January 2015 Newsletter

In this issue:
Contact us at info@victoriadra.ca

Nicholas Harrington, Editor, January 2015
Monthly Mystery Photo
Please click here, and identify the location of this statue. The first correct entry wins a $10 gift certificate to Varsha Sips & Nosh House, 1600 Government Street. 
Photo courtesy of S. Charbonneau 
Please send us your unique photos of Downtown or Harris Green to be considered for publication in our monthly Mystery Photo contest. Please send your submissions to editor@victoriadra.ca, as a JPEG attachment, with the location specified.

December's Mystery Revealed
Photo courtesy of Andy Wachtel
We had only one response to the Mystery Photo Contest last month. Fortunately Sarah C. was able to correctly identify that the beautiful pediment window pictured above is located on the upper floor of the old Bank of BC building, 1022 Government Street, directly above the main entrance to the Bard & Banker Pub.


Our Social Events Committee is hard at work arranging our next Roving Refinery, which is expected to take place this February. Keep an eye on your email inbox for your personal invitation to arrive within the next few weeks.

Annual General Meeting 2015

Our Annual General Meeting took place on January 8, 2015 at the Downtown Community Centre. The AGM was called to order at 5:30pm, and Chair Wendy Bowkett thanked everyone for attending and briefly introduced Mayor Lisa Helps, our guest speaker.

Mayor Helps' Address to Our Membership:
Mayor Helps began by introducing City Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, and City Downtown Coordinator Michael Hill, both in attendance, as long-time supporters of the Downtown/Harris Green neighbourhood. She stated that her campaign for Mayor was based on fulfilling promises with defined plans and timelines for changes to enhance and improve our city, and with respect to Downtown specifically, her goal is to foster a diverse, vibrant and safe Downtown.

Mayor Helps then subtly segued into an oral vignette, in which she invited the audience to share in her vision of our Downtown, some four years from today. As we 'toured' our future Downtown with our new Mayor as our guide, we saw such wonderful things as: A vibrant community that promotes equal opportunities, diverse thoughts and ideas; A Downtown where there are very few commercial vacancies, not just on street level, but on 2nd and 3rd floors as well; An urban core where high tech firms, marine industries, education sites, etc., co-exist in harmony; A regional hub of public transportation; A Downtown with fewer people living on the streets, and more housing and support for the disadvantaged; More festivals and green space; And a Harbour Pathway which is complete (or nearly so).

In speaking about how we can achieve such a vision, the Mayor admitted that she has been inspired by “Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System”, by author Donella Meadows, and intends to find appropriate "Leverage Points" here in our community to make her vision into a reality. In Meadows' concept, "Leverage Points" are "places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything." [Source: donellameadows.org]. According to the Mayor, three of the most important leverage points are Paradigm (or mindset), Goals, and Structure. Small changes in any one of these areas can make a large impact.

In Mayor Helps' opinion, our local governments, by the nature of their structure, are poor systems for instituting change, as they tend just to "fiddle" with the details and fail to leverage opportunities for change. As an example, she offered how issuing a bylaw does not necessarily get to the root of the problem. She is quite clear that City Staff & Council do not have all the answers - and in order to achieve success, citizens must be part of the process with their knowledge and experience. Council is currently working on a process to implement a "Strategic Plan" against which we will measure our success over the next 4 years. The plan will outline concrete goals and the proposed methods to achieve them. A draft version of the Strategic Plan will be brought to the public for input in late February or early March. 

Election of Board Members for 2015
The DRA Constitution allows for up to 13 Board members, and in 2014 we operated with 9 of the 13 positions filled. Two of those 9, Wendy Bowkett and Cathy Brankston, had completed their second consecutive 3 year term, and had therefore completed their maximum tenure on the Board. We begin 2015 with 12 members serving on our Board of Directors.

Six members of our Board, Doug Boyd, Robert Florida, Nicholas Harrington, Erika Luebbe, Kaela Schramm, and Ian Sutherland, are still serving their respective terms and will remain on the Board.

Board member Eric Ney, whose 3-year term had expired, was re-nominated and re-elected.

Two candidates, Kelly Chirhart and Karen Galllagher, were unable to attend the AGM in person, but had sent a request to the DRA ahead of the AGM asking to be considered for a position on the Board. Two other candidates, Ruth Annis and Don Elliott, both in attendance, had previously stated that they were interested in serving on the Board. All four candidates were nominated and subsequently elected.

After calling for any other nominations from the floor, and not receiving any, Chair Wendy accepted the nomination of Cathy Brankston, which is now allowable under the purview of our newly revised Bylaw 5(c) (see "Special Resolution to amend Bylaw 5(c)" below). Cathy was re-elected to the Board.

Chair Wendy Bowkett, who has served on our Board for the past six years, had decided not to rejoin the Board. Having served the maximum allowable tenure as a Board member, Wendy was eligible for re-election under our revised Bylaw 5(c), had she decided to serve again. Wendy has pledged to remain a member of the DRA, and to make herself available to assist the Association going forward.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the DRA membership, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Wendy for her tireless service to, and impeccable representation of our Association over the past six years!
Special Resolution to amend Bylaw 5(c)
Members in attendance at the AGM voted in favour of the Special Resolution to amend Bylaw 5(c), which the DRA Board had recommended to our membership after careful consideration.

Prior to the amendment, Bylaw 5(c) of the Constitution of Victoria Downtown Residents’ Association limited the tenure that any member could serve on the Associations Board of Directors to a total of two (2) consecutive 3-year terms. The revised wording of Bylaw 5(c) will enforce mandatory resignation from the Board of any member that has served two consecutive 3-year terms, but will allow that same member to be re-elected to the Board only if there are vacancies on the Board after all nominations from the Voting Membership have been considered. Additionally, the revised Bylaw 5(c) introduces a restriction limiting the term that any Board member may serve in the same position as Officer (chairperson, secretary, treasurer) to two consecutive 3-year terms.

For further details on our 2015 AGM, please visit the "Board Meetings & Minutes" page of our website here. We expect to have the draft 2015 AGM minutes posted there shortly.

Board Meeting Digest

The DRA held its first Board meeting of the year on January 12, 2015. Here are some of the more noteworthy tidbits:
Council Liaison:
We have been advised that we will be assigned a new Council Liaison at the upcoming Governance and Priorities Committee meeting scheduled for January 22, 2015 at 11:00 am.

Association Officers:

As no one board member expressed an interest in accepting the position of Chairperson, Kaela Schramm and Nicholas Harrington have agreed to share the responsibility, with each acting as Co-Chair.

Doug Boyd will continue his role as Treasurer. This will be Doug's second year  serving as Association Treasurer

The position of Association Secretary remains vacant as none of the board members expressed an interest in accepting. The vacancy will be addressed at the next Board meeting.

Board Meeting Location and Schedule:
It was agreed that Board meetings would be held on the 3rd Tuesday of the month this year. The next Board meeting will be held on February 17, 2015, 5:30 pm, at 1501 Douglas Street (Rifflandia HQ), our current meeting place. As mentioned in the November edition of this newsletter, we have been fortunate to have had the use of this space for Board meetings over the past few months, courtesy of Nick Blasko and the team at Atomique Productions. However, we have been advised that the building will soon close in preparation for the planned future development on the site, so we are actively seeking a replacement meeting space.

Committee Chairs & Meeting Schedules:
The goals and responsibilities of each of the DRA's committees will be defined at a future meeting of the respective committee. Current committee outlines are posted on our website. Any last minute changes to the date, time or location of a previously scheduled committee meeting will be posted on the home page of the DRA website under the heading "Upcoming Events". Any DRA member is welcome to participate in any of our Committees. If you are interested in participating in one of our committees, please email us at chair@victoriadra.ca
Healthy Living Committee (HLC)
Eric Ney, current chair, advised the Board that he wished to have a co-chair to share the responsibilities with him. New Board member Ruth Annis accepted the role of co-chair of the HLC. This year, HLC meetings will be held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. The first HLC meeting of the year will be held on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 5:30 pm, at Veneto Tapa Lounge, 1450 Douglas Street.

Community Development Committee (CDC)
Kaela Schramm, current chair, has agreed to stay on as co-chair with new Board member Don Elliot joining her as co-chair. CDC meetings will continue to be held on the 1st Thursday of the month. The first CDC meeting of this year will be held on Thursday February 5, 2015, 5:30 pm, at The Guild Freehouse, 1250 Wharf Street. The CDC will continue to perform the role of the Association's Social Events Committee.

Land Use Committee (LUC)
Ian Sutherland will continue on in his role as chair of the DRA's Land Use Committee. Meetings are called on an ad hoc basis, and Ian will continue to notify all LUC members of pending meetings.

While not officially a DRA committee, our Communications Team is responsible for our website, social media, and newsletter, and is an integral part of the Association. Nicholas Harrington will remain editor of the Newsletter, Erika L. will continue as our webmaster and social media expert, and Robert Florida will continue as a member of the team, and contribute newsletter articles from time to time. The Communications team currently meets quarterly, with the next  meeting to take place on Tuesday Jan 20, 2015, 5:30 pm, at Veneto Tapa Lounge, 1450 Douglas Street.

Land Use Committee: Ian Sutherland

595 Pandora Avenue - Cielo Properties
The four storey office building, formerly home to Service Canada, is to be converted into residential suites with ground floor commercial space. No CALUC meeting is necessary, as the zoning won't change, however due to the heritage nature of the site location, the proposal has been referred to the City's Heritage Advisory Panel as a part of the development review process. 

701 Belleville Street - Crystal Court Motel - Concert Properties
Ian is to meet with Concert Properties regarding the development potential of the Crystal Court property which they have just acquired. Although the property is officially in the neighbourhood of James Bay, the majority of the residential population surrounding it is in Downtown.

[Thank you to Cathy Brankston and Don Elliott for the above content - Editor]

We want to hear from you...

One important 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. Have you written for a newspaper, an association newsletter, or written your own blog? Have you always wanted to? Here is your call to write about your neighbourhood and share it with our more than 150 subscribers who all call Downtown Victoria home. 

For inspiration, feel free to look over past editions of our Newsletter here, and then send your submissions to editor@victoriadra.ca!

Happy New Year!

The DRA wishes everyone a happy, healthy, and successful new year!

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