I just had a really nice tour of some inspiring community-led placemaking.
This tour was kindly given to me by three new friends I met today in Oaklands Rise.
Of course, although we met today, as usual in Victoria there already was a connection – my kids play music with their neighbour’s kids!
If you haven’t yet seen the Oaklands Woonerf, you can check it out along Kings Greenway (aka Kings Rd, a City-designated People Priority Greenway), centered around Mt Stephen Avenue. Or visit online at www.oaklandsrise.ca.
Our tour began at the xeriscape garden on the Greenway at Capital Heights. Little watering, low maintenance, hmm just my speed. 🤔
Across the street, another garden supported by boxes with paintings of the (real) Dogs of Oaklands Rise.
Lots of gardens, some established and some newly-planted. Street art – some obvious and some subtle (the bird) – provides delight and strengthens the sense of place.
Expect some street painting too, in the near future.
There are a number of beautiful, new handmade benches. Oak seats from a fallen Garry Oak with inlay designs and cedar backs. You can smell the cedar from across the way.
Neighbourhood residents come to sit on these benches, including seniors and others from the nearby Cridge Centre. People going by stop and chat. Creating neighbourhood amenities like this is a community-building activity, as is using them.
Further east to a lovely garden with local plants (this photo does not do it justice). I couldn’t list the plant names, but next year there will be a book published about the history of this garden. And the PoetTree – if you stop by you can read new poems every so often.
All of this serves to calm the traffic, making it safer to socialize, walk and roll (we greeted a couple of people with mobility challenges, lots of dog walkers, a few baby strollers and several cars too).
A neighbour said that kids used to run around this place when it was an open field with cows, serving the nearby dairy. Before that, it was woodland and likely camas meadows. Now, duplexes are starting to replace detached houses, and the community is working together to make nicer shared spaces, where kids can run around.
Victoria continues to change, as it has for many years.
As I mentioned to my new friends, I would like to see the City work to encourage and support the development of more placemaking and community building like this, and I am open to how Council makes that shift. Providing policy direction? Setting targets and objectives? Education about the many places where this is already happening? Other strategies?
Please feel free to reach out with your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d encourage you to follow Oaklands Rise through its newsletter, Pinterest, or social media accounts, all accessible at www.oaklandsrise.ca. And if you’re inspired to look into placemaking for your street, I’d encourage you to check out the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, at www.victoriaplacemaking.ca.