Cridge Park: boon or blown opportunity?
When Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin formally unveils the new and improved Cridge Park on the morning of April 8, it will mark the final chapter in the struggle to retain one of the few remaining park spaces in south Downtown.
The battle would pit those who envisaged a bustling cultural hub against those who wanted to see an extended green belt cutting through the Humboldt Valley.
Cridge Park lies nestled between The Church of Our Lord and the Crystal Garden and includes the land leased to the neighbouring Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling Club.
The new changes include three winding bricked pathways that converge at a historical marker at the park’s centre. A line of tree stumps snake their way through a play area offering children the opportunity to climb and balance. Metal benches offer pedestrians a chance to rest their feet and check their latest text messages. Shade is provided by the remaining old trees scattered around the park.
In 2007, former Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe said City Hall was considering evicting the lawn bowling club and redeveloping the entire Cridge Park site for cultural purposes. An underground parkade would be built on the site of the bowling green and a cluster of buildings would sit atop the property at the corner of Belleville and Blanshard. Possible tenants discussed at the time included a childrens’ museum and a satellite venue for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. The plan outraged park supporters and faced with a voter backlash on the eve of the 2008 civic election, City Hall abandoned the plan and decided to enact a bylaw ensuring the park would remain a permanent green space. The City announced the Cridge Park renewal plan last year.
Meanwhile, Vancouver development firm Westbank struggled to come up with a redevelopment plan for the Crystal Court motel site across Belleville Street from the park. City Hall liked the idea of an extensive landscaping treatment on the site along with a pedestrian-friendly sculpture garden. Planners and Councillors liked the idea that the privately-funded green space in front of Westbank’s proposed luxury condo highrise would link the tourist-laden Inner Harbour district with the nearby St. Ann’s Academy grounds. When the developers finally threw in the towel in 2008, the landscaping plan died with it and the boarded-up motel has sat there ever since.
While many celebrated the saving of the park, some lamented a lost opportunity. Councillor Chris Coleman noted at the time that the construction of the parkade did not necessarily mean the bowling green would vanish–it could simply be reconstructed above it. The childrens’ museum supporters continue to search for a Downtown venue while arts and cultural organizations have put expansion plans on hold in uncertain economic times.
The official opening celebration for Cridge Park happens Friday, April 8, from 11:15 a.m till noon with a reception following at The Church of Our Lord.
Copyright © 2011 by VibrantVictoria.ca. All rights reserved.
Responses to this Headline or Article
The five most recent replies to VibrantVictoria.ca's discussion forum's [Downtown Victoria] Crystal Garden Block announcement thread, the most relevant thread to the above headline or article:
amor de cosmosJul 27, 2013 at 10:21 am
just sayin again
Mike K.Jul 27, 2013 at 11:00 am
You want to give people heart attacks, don't you?
amor de cosmosSep 06, 2013 at 1:22 pm
Quote: You want to give people heart attacks, don't you?
I still like the first one best though. an 8-storey version with green panels instead would rock this intersection
G-ManSep 06, 2013 at 2:28 pm
Agree. With a ground floor pub and patio right at the pinnacle point of the triangle would be amazing.
amor de cosmosSep 08, 2013 at 4:08 pm
wayyyyy too much fun: