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#1 Bernard

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 10:54 AM

I thought it was time to start a thread to discuss the parks of the region.

1) Which parks work well, which ones do not?

2) Where do we need more parks?

3) What parks are not working?

4) What open spaces are out there that are not officially parks?

Here are my thoughts on Cuthbert Holmes, my thoughts on the need for a Grand Park for the area, and an idea for a linear park along Blanshard

#2 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:16 AM

I had no idea where Cuthbert Holmes Park is, so I looked online and found this really nice flickr set. You're right, the park looks like it has some real beauty spots. It's also on Wikimapia here, which was helpful for me in terms of placing it geographically.

Re. where do we need more parks? We could sure use more pocket parks and opportunities for public seating downtown.
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#3 Lover Fighter

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:22 AM

Beacon Hill is obviously Victoria's "Grand Park" and I don't know why we would need a substitute.

I think Greater Victoria is very lucky to have so many parks nearby (when compared to other North American cities). We have a fair number of urban parks (I can't think of any neighbourhood without multiple public playgrounds) and sufficient nature parks. Mount Doug is fantastic as it is easily accessible by bike, car and bus (end of bus route #28 from downtown).

I would really like CRD Parks to make more of an effort with the Sea to Sea Green Blue Belt. I believe there have been mulitiple 'park reserves' established through the Sooke Hills from Finlayson Arm to the Strait of Juan de Fuca but there has been no effort to open these reserves up to the public. The hiking through these hills is fantastic (there are already trails through most of them) but the CRD seems reluctant to 'open' them.

#4 Lover Fighter

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 11:24 AM

Saanich has been much slower in 'modernizing' their city parks when compared to Victoria. Cuthbert Holmes is a perfect example of this, but I can think of many others throughout Saanich in line for upgrading (to make them more accessible and desirable).

EDIT: and as a side note, I was kayaking this Summer and was surprised to find out I could kayak up the Colquitz River (through Cuthbert Holmes) right up to Silvercity!

#5 Bernard

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 12:04 PM

Beacon Hill is not our grand park because of all the restrictions there on it being used for large scale community events.

Unless the Beacon Hill trust arrangement can be changed, we need to look elsewhere.

Beacon Hill also suffers from being nowhere close to the centre of our region.

Cuthbert Holmes - 75 acres next to a large mall and people in the neighbourhood do not even know it is there.

#6 victorian fan

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 12:25 PM

Saanich has 160 parks covering more than 760 hectares.

Community parks are under used today. I think it's a sign of the times. As a child, all my friends and classmates would play at our local park. After school, on weekends and even after dark in the winter. That no longer happens.

#7 Coreyburger

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 04:33 PM

People are using local parks less because they are walking and biking less. Cars shrink distances, making it seem reasonable to drive to a bigger park, rather than the one right around the corner.

For me, the best "park" is the front yard and street in front of every house. It is time we retook this streets back from cars and gave them to the regions children and famileis.

#8 mat

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 05:25 PM

People are using local parks less because they are walking and biking less. Cars shrink distances, making it seem reasonable to drive to a bigger park, rather than the one right around the corner.

For me, the best "park" is the front yard and street in front of every house. It is time we retook this streets back from cars and gave them to the regions children and famileis.


are people really walking and biking less? Certainly car commute use has gone up with the expansion of the Western Communities but were there not stats showing bike use in general was up?

#9 Lover Fighter

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 06:26 PM

Beacon Hill is not our grand park because of all the restrictions there on it being used for large scale community events.

Unless the Beacon Hill trust arrangement can be changed, we need to look elsewhere.

Beacon Hill also suffers from being nowhere close to the centre of our region.

Cuthbert Holmes - 75 acres next to a large mall and people in the neighbourhood do not even know it is there.


I just don't understand why one would rather look elsewhere to create a defining 'grand park' than try to have a restriction appealed on the park that was built to be our grand park.

And I don't think it would be possible to have a large park any closer to our core than Beacon Hill. The northwest corner literally brushes right up against what I consider downtown! In fact, it's probably closer to downtown than most other large North American urban parks. Take Stanley Park for example, it is on a large promontory that juts out from downtown, and takes a longer walk to get to from the core than Beacon Hill does from downtown Victoria. But I don't know of anyone who would propose a secondary large central park in Vancouver.

I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people in the Tillicum-Gorge neighbourhood know about Cuthbert Holmes though. I've gone dog-walking there in the mornings and evenings before and encountered dozens of other citizens using the trails.

#10 aastra

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 07:46 PM

So where did we all get the idea that people are using local parks less now than they were before? What era are we comparing against? What's the source for our data? Personally, I've seen no evidence at all to back up this particular claim.

I think it might be a good idea to define what we mean by a park. Are we talking about a wooded reserve in which people can hike or nature watch? Or are we talking about a recreational space that offers a range of activities, like Beacon Hill Park and the various city parks?

I think most of the major city parks work very well: Beacon Hill Park, Central Park, Stadacona Park, Hollywood Park, Oaklands Park, Carnarvon Park, Windsor Park, Gyro Park, Lambrick Park, etc.

I agree with Lover Fighter that Beacon Hill Park's location is pretty hard to beat. I suppose it might be a bit more convenient for the average resident if it were a kilometer or so north of its present location (maybe swap places with the north end of downtown or something like that). Any further north and it just wouldn't work. For example, let's buy up all the property between Christmas Hill and Swan Lake and merge them both into one big park. Would that work? I think it wouldn't work at all (regardless of how nice the park might be) simply because it's isolated in a low density area between major thoroughfares.

I think I'd like to see our famous Cridge Park get a makeover. Don't gut the place. Just fancy it up a bit.

#11 Coreyburger

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 03:43 AM

are people really walking and biking less? Certainly car commute use has gone up with the expansion of the Western Communities but were there not stats showing bike use in general was up?


I am talking about the time scale of 1950 and earlier, back before we went on the most recent suburbanization trend.

And yes, the trend is slowly reversing itself, but there is a lot of damage left to undo.

#12 jklymak

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 07:07 AM

For me, the best "park" is the front yard and street in front of every house. It is time we retook this streets back from cars and gave them to the regions children and famileis.


I am talking about the time scale of 1950 and earlier, back before we went on the most recent suburbanization trend.


I find these two statements contradictory. What are you envisioning here?

I agree that Beacon Hill park is great. Move it somewhere else? That view is unbelievable! I send every visitor there, and they are amazed that we have something like that. My only complaint is I wish it were bigger - if May St South to past Moss were also part of the park it would be truly monumental.

What do you mean by a "pocket park" Ms B? There are a few downtown - behind the Court house, Cridge Park, Pioneer Park, the thing behind the supermarket on Cook, Harris Green. Do you think there should be more, or did you have a different model in mind?

#13 Caramia

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 11:54 AM

My favourite park in Victoria is Spring Ridge park in Fernwood. It is all edible plants, and most times of the year you can go there and find yummy treat (they've even got one that fruits in Feb) The stone benches were created by a recovering addict who took it upon himself to repair and add to the stonework there as part of his recovery. The plants were planted by a local guy too. The thing is maintained by neighbours. I go there and sit a lot, and I usually meet interesting people. It is tiny - the size of one corner lot. Yet once you start walking the paths it can seem like an entire world.
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#14 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 01:29 PM

^^ @ jklymak: the wikipedia description of pocket park works for me:

A pocket park or mini-park is a small park accessible to the general public. In some areas they are called miniparks or vestpocket parks.

Pocket parks are frequently created on a single vacant building lot or on small, irregular pieces of land. They also may be created as a component of the public space requirement of large building projects.

Pocket parks can be urban, suburban or rural, and can be on public or private land. Although they are too small for physical activities, pocket parks provide greenery, a place to sit outdoors, and sometimes a children's playground. They may be created around a monument, historic marker or art project.

In highly urbanized areas, particularly downtowns where land is very expensive, pocket parks are the only option for creating new public spaces without large-scale redevelopment. In inner-city areas, pocket parks are often part of urban regeneration plans and provide areas where wildlife such as birds can establish a foothold. Unlike larger parks, pocket parks are sometimes designed to be fenced and locked when not in use.

I think something like that was talked about when there was discussion around building that interesting looking tower on the parking lot between Fort & View Streets, to the East of Lund's Auctioneers. The pocket park would have been integrated into the walkway between Fort & View, perhaps facing Fort.

There's a very cool one described in Spacing. Here's a photo (it's between two renovated buildings, and has a distinctly modern, hip edge:


There's a whole flickr set (the photo above is a night-time shot, very theatrical-looking, but there are daytime shots as well) here.

And as the Edmonton Journal described one of its own such pocket parks, "it's an itsy-bitsy, awkwardly shaped wedge of space that has been turned into a lovely place to sit for a few minutes, sip a coffee (morning/evening) or a slushie (afternoon), and flip through a magazine, newspaper or book. There are flowers. There's a place to sit in the shade."

IMO, the key thing is that pocket parks must have a "wow!" factor -- they have to be so well-designed and delightful that only a moron would think of trashing them. They should literally stop you in your tracks when you're walking down the street. Just my opinion, though.

Re. Beacon Hill Park, I too agree that it is our "grand park."

Re. jklymak's question to Coreyburger - would love to hear hear an answer because I also think it's a total contradiction to value the suburban form (a lawn in front of every home) and disparage suburbanization.
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#15 jklymak

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 04:36 PM

^Nice

Reminds me somewhat of the small squares in Europe. I'm in Barcelona for work, and there are little plazas every few blocks where there is room to sit and hang out. Of course everything else is packed in so the small plazas allow room to decompress. This is mostly in the Old Town. The newer part of town (1850s or so?) is cool too, but space is achieved by shaving the corner off every building, making every intersection spacious, many with room for outdoor seating. Kind of a similar idea.

I will reitterate that these cities are very dense. 7-storeys for blocks and blocks and blocks, not space between buildings. Small blocks, and intermittent "parks". Nice thing is folks get out and use them because their apartments are for retreating, but not necessarily for full time living.

#16 Coreyburger

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 12:54 AM

I find these two statements contradictory. What are you envisioning here?

I agree that Beacon Hill park is great. Move it somewhere else? That view is unbelievable! I send every visitor there, and they are amazed that we have something like that. My only complaint is I wish it were bigger - if May St South to past Moss were also part of the park it would be truly monumental.

What do you mean by a "pocket park" Ms B? There are a few downtown - behind the Court house, Cridge Park, Pioneer Park, the thing behind the supermarket on Cook, Harris Green. Do you think there should be more, or did you have a different model in mind?


Those two statements are absolutely not contradictory. The surrendering of the street and then the front yard exactly corresponds to the rise of the car.

As for Beacon Hill park being bigger, it used to be. That wierd little bite out of it in the north-east was taken out because Sir James Douglas wanted some land and other bits on the west and east were pulled out to give to people during the late 1800s.

#17 jklymak

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 08:52 AM

Those two statements are absolutely not contradictory. The surrendering of the street and then the front yard exactly corresponds to the rise of the car.


Most pre-car cities and even midsized towns that I'm familiar with have apartment blocks. Even villages. So again, I wonder where you have seen pre-auto housing (for common folks) that had yards out front?

#18 Bernard

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 09:06 AM

Many of the apartments and condos that are built have quite a bit of greenspace in front of them - as an example take a look at Cook Street from Meares to Fairfield.

These buildings are already in place, but why cold there not be a requirement as more are built that these green spaces be managed as if they were public green spaces? There has to be a way to make them work as parks but not harm the privacy of the people living there.

#19 G-Man

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 01:01 PM

It would be nice to lose one of the sports fields at Topaz park and turn back over to nature. There are currently 4 soccer fields there plus a lacrosse court and really one less would be nice. My cote would be for the one on the Eastern end of the park North of the playground.

Or we could lose the middle Western one and use it for outdoor concerts. No friends of Topaz Park that I am aware of :)

#20 Coreyburger

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 03:12 AM

Most pre-car cities and even midsized towns that I'm familiar with have apartment blocks. Even villages. So again, I wonder where you have seen pre-auto housing (for common folks) that had yards out front?


Many had small yards, or the residents simply used the street and sidewalk as a place to gather. Many of the early surburbs were in fact streetcar suburbs, so cars were limited, leaving those huge front lawns open for the residents to use safely.

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