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Centennial Square

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#741 sdwright.vic



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Posted 04 September 2018 - 01:59 PM

Predictive text and a tiny keyboard are not my friends!

#742 Cassidy

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 04:04 PM

I personally don't want any money spent here as it will not be taken care of and any improvement disrespected.

You mean the $1.65 million on the tiny “Spirit” portion of the square that was spent a few years ago doesn’t look like money well spent to you?

The drug dealers sure like it when the sun is shining ... they basically live there all day, every day.
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#743 Nparker

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 05:03 PM

Either completely redevelop Centennial Square or do nothing. Band-aid fixes are just throwing money down the drain.

#744 mbjj

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 06:54 PM

if by browsing you mean falling asleep and overdosing in the library then yes

Actually I've worked there for over 25 years, so I will dispute that. Yes, people sleep and overdose, but loads of people browse as well.

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#745 LJ

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 07:55 PM

i was at the library last week.  in the area near the microfilms there was not a sole in the rows and rows and rows and rows of books.  the library looks to me to mostly attract computer users and the odd person studying or borrowing the free wifi.  and yes the homeless for the bathrooms mostly or to charge their cellphones and sleep.

Were there any hands?

Life's a journey......so roll down the window and enjoy the breeze.

#746 Nparker

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Posted 06 September 2018 - 08:43 PM

Were there any hands?

No but there were some carp and a couple of trout.

#747 Nparker

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 09:29 AM

From the CoV's "Centennial Square Action Plan"

...key strategies to bring more vibrancy to Centennial Square include:

- Increase ground-level commercial and cafe/restaurant space in the area
- Facilitate temporary installations such as cafe kiosks or food trucks in the Square
- Improve the Square's connections with Douglas Street
- Incorporate play elements to make the space welcoming for children and families
- Introduce new surface material to complement the existing heritage brick

Other than improving the square's connection to Douglas Street, and that will only occur if that over sized tree is removed (and we know that will never happen), I don't see one bit of innovation in any of these "visions".

Also, "heritage brick"? Do the brick pavers in the square come from some ancient and revered source?

Edited by Nparker, 26 September 2018 - 09:29 AM.

#748 Baro

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 10:50 AM

Brick is to victoria as river-rock to langford, it's like a mascot material.

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"beats greezy have baked donut-dough"

#749 Nparker

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 11:05 AM

Brick is to victoria as river-rock to langford, it's like a mascot material.

So even fresh-from-the-kiln brick is "heritage"?

#750 Cassidy

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 11:55 AM

Brick is to victoria as river-rock to langford, it's like a mascot material.

It looked like Hades when it was running full tilt, with smoke pouring out of a half a dozen different chimneys at once, and it's now the site of the Mayfair Mall, but when it comes to brick and the City of Victoria ... you only need four words:

Baker Brick and Tile

probably 80+% of the City is built from brick from this yard, and it's definitely considered "heritage brick" by those who consider such things.

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#751 Nparker

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 12:04 PM

Maybe building a working replica of the brickyard at Centennial Square would enliven it. It couldn't make it a whole lot worse.

#752 Cassidy

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 12:05 PM

It's already Hades ... just minus the smoke.

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#753 Nparker

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 12:07 PM

It's already Hades ... just minus the smoke.

You've clearly never strolled by the square on April 20th.

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#754 johnk

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Posted 27 September 2018 - 12:55 AM

Were there any hands?

Maybe a few heels.

#755 Cassidy

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 10:31 AM

This link may have been shared in pages past that I haven't seen.

Centennial Square began its life with very high hopes, in a Victoria very different from what we see today.




(audio quality sucks, probably a direct copy from a 16mm optical track).

Edited by Cassidy, 14 April 2019 - 10:32 AM.

#756 aastra

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 12:25 PM

"A Townscape Rediscovered" tells you everything that you need to know. The mission was to de-downtown-ify the downtown area. A staggering amount of authentic old texture was lost. And what lesson do Victorians take from the failure? They say it didn't go far enough, it didn't go all the way, just like [insert some military defeat here] didn't go all the way. More destruction was called for. The hole they were blowing in the heart of downtown needed to be bigger still. And so forth.

#757 Cassidy

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 01:08 PM

Centennial Square is (in 2019) a dismal, ever deteriorating boil on the ass of Victoria.

It is a textbook example of a total failure in urban design, and has been on a steady downward decline for the past 30+ years.


The CRD Square portion (with the big ball/pearl) was supposed to make things better by opening up the Square, as was the demolition of the restaurant attached to the theater ... it didn't work. 

CRD Square hasn't necessarily made things worse, but it's not improved a single thing in Centennial Square itself.

The removal of the restaurant has just provided many more square feet for the miscreants to sit in the sun all day - every day (when they're not bashing each other over the head with skateboards, or knifing each other in the gut).


Perennially filthy, dangerous 24 hours a day, and all but ignored by VicPD, it's actually an incredibly accurate sample of the City of Victoria in 2019 ... in the broader sense.

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#758 aastra

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Posted 14 April 2019 - 01:38 PM

Transcribed narration below from "A Townscape Rediscovered".

(This would be a featured exhibit in my case to prove that Victoria's supposed resistance to change was and is a total crock. The strong anti-urban sentiment that swelled up during the intense years of suburban growth was all about eagerness for big changes, the glorious goal being to "fix" the supposedly broken city by beating down a lot of its old urban mystique and favouring the automobile and suburban trends. New was good just because it was new. Old urban environments were drab and generic just because they were old and urban:


    This could be any town in Canada. But it happens to be the story of one.

    Any of these streets could belong to a larger city, or a smaller town. (aastra says: you know, because all cities are the same. Victoria is and was exactly the same as every other place.)

    They're typical. They could belong to the place where you live. (aastra says: you know, because the extended Chinatown area in old Victoria was so generic. Every city & town has a district like that.)

    The people in these streets perceive their surroundings every day, with their eyes but not with their minds. (aastra says: zombie apocalypse.)

    There used to be a tangled web of overhead wires, the chaos of advertising signs, the dreariness of endless blacktop.

    There was congestion, confusion, ugliness. (aastra says: wow, downtown Victoria sounds like it was one step from hell itself. And yet generic and typical at the same time.)

    People heard sounds that no longer penetrated their consciousness. Harsh-noised background racket of traffic. (aastra says: I'm weeping for humanity.)

    People developed the trick of not really seeing their surroundings in order to block them out and forget them. (aastra says: old Victoria wasn't so much a physical place as a traumatic experience.)

    In any town where visual chaos exists all around, there's a desperate need to create new spaces designed for people... (aastra says: exactly how many places suffer from this supposed visual chaos? WTF are you talking about?)

    to improve the existing streets and townscape...

    to make the heart of the town an attraction, not something to get away from. (aastra says: ding, ding, ding.)

    That's how it was in our town. In Victoria, BC, Canada. And nobody seemed to care too much.

    Until a new idea came forward, an imaginative concept for a practical, delightful oasis in the centre of town. (aastra says: oasis, shelter, escape... subversion, inversion... creation of an un-downtown.)

    A civic square, built around the city hall... the first step in a comprehensive plan to revitalize the aging heart of the town.

    Our citizens gave themselves this gift, beyond price - a transformation from a dull, impersonal, often ugly environment, into a living place for a living people...

    a change also from economic stagnation into a profitable paying proposition, and with it all a sense of community belonging.

    In this seeming wasteland of old buildings the plan would become a living fact. (aastra says: "seeming wasteland of old buildings" = Victoria's unofficial motto.)

    The plan said: renew or rehabilitate existing buildings wherever possible. If this isn't possible, tear them down. (aastra says: reluctantly & with heavy hearts, of course. But ASAP.)

    Gain open space for landscaping by closing a street or two. (aastra says: the more Victoria changes, the more it stays the same...)

    During the design stage, the interest of our citizens in their town centre was vigorously promoted. Cooperative face-lifting plans were proposed to local merchants, in repainting the facades of commercial buildings.

    Individual property owners did the rest. Local business men, helping the community smarten up its appearance, help themselves as well.

    Soon, people began to notice for the first time the streets they used every day. Whole streets came alive again.

    The program sought to harmonize old and new buildings. It involved painting-up of buildings, controlled commercial signs, and planting pavement trees.

    Most buildings -- old or new -- look far better seen through the trees. (aastra says: those trees are mature now so we're chopping them down, and we'll continue chopping until we eventually realize all over again that trees are good.)

    Cities, like fashions, are in a constant state of change.

    Suburban growth and shopping centres have sapped the strength from the heart of town. when the heart begins to decay, it's time for action. (aastra says: time to suburbanize the heart.)

    Finding the right course of action is never easy. (aastra says: especially when you rule out most of the possibilities before the process even begins.)

    The renewed town centre must be practical, and yet create a place that brings delight to all kinds of people. (aastra says: cue the wrecking ball, literally!)

    Victoria almost prided itself on a tradition of sleepy indifference to change of any kind. (aastra says: I've blown this myth to bits countless times, the JSB being the most recent example.)

    Yet, finally, the vigorous promotion for an exciting town centre plan paid off. For the first time, people became vitally concerned about the livability of their town. The old-time lethargy turned into enthusiasm. (aastra says: people wanted an exciting town centre? Or just an exciting plan?)

    The mayor's chair -- a link with past generations -- is moved temporarily from city hall, for the renovators are coming in to do a major job.

    Renovation, and not replacement, will overcome the building's obsolescence, and at less cost. The savings will go to landscaping and beautification.

    All of these changes and upheavals seem to bring a look of misgiving to the stern and frosty gazes of city fathers going back a hundred years.

    The city hall clock had been a landmark for nearly a century, but to save it -- for nostalgia -- the price might be too high. (aastra says: do I really need to say anything? Surely you get it by now? Victorians want preservation... but not at any price. If the price of preservation is higher than 50 cents then they don't want it.)

    Inside, the old city hall was cramped and dark. Corridors were drafty and gloomy. Chunks of plaster fell from the ceilings.

    But, once aroused, public opinion wanted the historic building saved. The experts dug deeper to come up with practical answers.

    The old building was structurally sound. Adding a new wing would provide needed extra space. For this, the ground was cleared adjoining old city hall. (aastra says: cue the bulldozers, literally!)

    The blending of old and new - let the new rebuilding seem as though it grew from the old, not conflict with what remains of the old days. The best of the past is worth preserving. (aastra says: and the rest can be junked without a second thought.)

    The city hall emerges from demolition rubble as land clearance continues.

    Continuity in the life of every town is important. Even bricks were carefully salvaged for reuse. The mellow warmth of old brick will help the rebuilding program achieve instant maturity. (aastra says: Victorians love to pat their own backs for such token gestures, for banners and plaques, etc.)

    Another renovation was begun on the old police station, and near city hall a car-park building began to rise over an open parking lot.

    The old theatre, long dark and silent, looked to a new vitality as a community playhouse.

    A multi-purpose square was the key element in this total plan to make the town centre live.

    Modern materials and techniques were used, but the whole idea was to achieve harmony between new construction and old surroundings. (aastra says: cue the musical homage to new construction.)

    New buildings, new perspectives, new ambitions... in a town with a longtime reputation for standing still. If it can be done here it can be done anywhere. (aastra says: Victoria has always been all over the map re: its own reputation. It might be the only place in the world where nothing ever happens and where there's also the endless scourge of new construction. Visual chaos and boredom, etc.)


    But a new look alone won't solve the basic problems of a declining economy or fundamental flaws in traffic circulation or unsound merchandising practices. (aastra says: traffic, always that obsession with !@#$% automobiles.)

    A civic project truly designed for people.

    Around bastion square, buildings and the spaces between them were designed long ago with a human scale. (aastra says: unlike the buildings on old Cormorant Street? They were the wrong scale?)

    Amid the complex problems of redesigning a city centre... the emerging new look in centennial square gave us the first practical evidence of what urban renovation can achieve. (aastra says: did it ever!)

    Now it's clear that the results of the town centre plan have strongly affected the whole outlook of the city. (aastra says: have they ever!)

    There used to be apathy and indifference. Now community pride is stronger than it has ever been. (aastra says: hmmm. So whatever happened to the community pride since then?)

    Rehabilitation of the town centre did not disrupt exising social patterns and activities. Rather, it created a better setting for them. (aastra says: blowing a big hole in downtown made downtown a better setting for stuff.)

    A place to enjoy beautiful surroundings at the city centre. (aastra says: so beautiful, Centennial Square.)

    A new car-park building, efficient and good to look at. (aastra says: so beautiful, that !@#$% parking garage.)

    It includes a shopping arcade to bring the flow of retail trade right into the landscaped square. (aastra says: such a success, reflecting such a solid understanding of the true nature of downtown.)

    The look of ordinary commercial streets improved greatly when commercial signs were brought under control.

    Standards of appearance... to bring order out of visual chaos. (aastra says: nobody finds it even a bit peculiar that a small city's downtown would have been so horribly chaotic? Maybe it wasn't? Maybe Victorians were resenting their small city's unique urban character?)

    Attractive car-park buildings now surround the town centre. (aastra says: again with the !@#$% cars.)

    Motorists are naturally drawn to the shops and pleasant promenades nearby. (aastra says: do I even need to say it again?)

    It's still too early to judge the full success of Victoria's plan for community improvement. (aastra says: not anymore. I hate to break it to you, but it was very nearly a total disaster.)

    Some say that no mere rehabiliation scheme can revitalize a whole community. But here is ample evidence to say they're wrong. (aastra says: evidence is indeed ample, I'd agree on that.)


So does the thinking evident in that video (film) still rule? I like to think not, but much of the rhetoric is still being used verbatim. There's just such a celebration of impatience in all of it. By hastily demolishing stuff and by scoffing at the past you prove that you're mature and modern. In reality they were just scoffing at their parents' generation and their grandparent's generation and (I think, even though it's never overtly stated) also expressing their frustration that Vancouver was still growing strong. A longtime reputation for standing still? In the 1960s? Victoria had been building like crazy up until the great depression (the Humboldt Street wing of the Empress Hotel was late 1920s construction). That "longtime reputation" = maybe 40 years by the time of the Centennial Square project? And yet simultaneously in the 1960s, irreplaceable buildings were already being demolished even though some of them were less than 50 years old!

Victorians need to get it: the wounds will be healed when they stop lamenting their city's unique downtown and start celebrating it for what it was, is, and can be. This point remains so pertinent, when we're (still!) slogging through controversies re: Northern Junk or the Wharf Street parking lots or etc. Methinks there's no room for excuses in the wake of recent projects like the HBC or the New England Hotel. For larger projects, the HBC in particular demonstrates the right attitude and the right approach. Celebration rather than obliteration.

Edited by aastra, 15 April 2019 - 08:35 AM.

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