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The Songhees Neighbourhood in Vic West


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#21 Mike K.

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 08:35 AM

I'm not sure how much Pollen was involved with Songhees but it's his ilk that crafted the plan.

Pollen's other legacy was quashing the highrise proposal at the foot of Yates.

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#22 dasmo

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 09:13 AM

I'm not trying to make developers look like big bad wolves. My dad was a developer. I am pro development. I am a developer myself of sorts. I just don't accept bad design being put off on anyone else's shoulders than those that did the act. Sure the city is culpable by not providing better guidelines and guidance however a developer that was passionate for the opportunity that was presented could have done something great. Anyone have a link to those original guidelines. Before I get too passionate about this rant I would at least like to know what I'm talking about ;-)

 

By the way I am using "locals" as way to just personify passion for the location. I understand that local only development is entirely ridiculous (thus my league of gentlemen video) 

 

I also 100% agree that commercial is very much lacking in this area especially along the walkway. Let's hope that actually happens here and those buildings are not tasked for something else that also that turns it's back to the neighbourhood. 



#23 G-Man

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 10:31 AM

I have only ever seen them at the library not sure if they are online anywhere.

Visit my blog at: https://www.sidewalkingvictoria.com 

 

It has a whole new look!

 


#24 Hotel Mike

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 10:48 AM

If I remember correctly, the initial guidelines and planning for the Songhees redevelopment was done by the provincial government. The Songhees plan fell under the same aegis as the Expo lands. I believe Grace McCarthy was the minister in charge. Then as the noose began to tighten around the Social Credit government's neck, the province happily gave the city the land for $1 or some such thing, and wiped their hands of it. They did hang on to the Expo lands and steered the way that development went.

 

So here is the City of Victoria, led by an NDP mayor, who knows nothing about development or business, painting this blank canvas. Had they stuck to the provincial plan, there would have been some life in the area as it developed. Instead the councils of the day just took the basic residential development, because it increased the tax base. What they built for the most part showed no imagination, and gave us what we have today...ersatz heritage, with no commercial or business enterprises in the area at all. I'm happy to think this is about to change for the better, finally, with the marina, and then the Roundhouse.


Don't be so sure.:cool:

#25 Mike K.

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 11:03 AM

Partisan politics at its finest. Forget what the other party did, we'll show 'em.

This is an eerie reminder of what's happening with the JSB. The province isn't involved in any capacity, the City wanted autonomy at any cost, and an NDP-sympathetic council and mayor couldn't wait to put their names on a piece of Victoria history.

Which also brings us to Dockside Green. The City's thirst for putting Victoria on the map with a pie-in-the-sky project got us a whopping empty field in the heart of the city.

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#26 G-Man

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 11:13 AM

I found an amended version online here:

http://www.victoria....policy-plan.pdf

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It has a whole new look!

 


#27 dasmo

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 12:15 PM

Ok...already reading the first few pages I don't even think the city is culpable at all! The opening letter from the mayor of the time clearly states they are open to new ideas and changes that would improve utility and quality to the area.
The original concept objectives from 1983 are all bang on! Provisions for a neighbourhood village centre, waterfront contiguous public space to accommodate events and gatherings, The waterfront should not become a sterile space that people visit but should incorporate business commercial and residential uses, these should not be separated but integrated to provide a variety of texture and activity, the scale quality and character of the development should compliment the dignity and beauty of the provincial capital.

will read more later..


Edited by dasmo, 23 September 2014 - 12:40 PM.


#28 Nparker

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 01:02 PM

...The waterfront should not become a sterile space that people visit but should incorporate business commercial and residential uses, these should not be separated but integrated to provide a variety of texture and activity, the scale quality and character of the development should compliment the dignity and beauty of the provincial capital....

Well the Songhees development has badly failed on the first part of that statement (at least to date). I am not even sure how one is supposed to compliment "dignity", but if they meant aesthetically then that has been a monumental fail as well.



#29 Mike K.

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 01:06 PM

The original plan was great. Then Victoria took it over. We went over that a few posts above.

 

If you're a developer, as you say, you should be very well versed at how difficult it us to building something the City doesn't want you to build. You seem to be of the opinion that the Songhees was a runaway train at the hands of developers, but it's the City that ok'd absolutely everything. Nothing was built without the City's blessing.


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#30 Mike K.

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 01:47 PM

That document reads like an epic misadventure. A pedestrian crosswalk over Esquimalt? An LRT connecting Vic West? These guys had some pretty wacky visions for Vic West, but a mixed-use, cohesive Songhees wasn't one of them.


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#31 dasmo

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 04:03 PM

Oh god... read further... They should have stopped after those first few pages! Those design guidelines! uhg... And their zoning map is the opposite of the concept objective! (note the commercial is indicated where the save on is now so I was right, it was part of this stinking plan) OK city is culpable once again.... Still doesn't let the developers of the hook for bad design. I've seen new developments in Rotterdam that would fit these design guidlines and are very nice....


Edited by dasmo, 23 September 2014 - 04:04 PM.


#32 Mike K.

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 06:16 PM

Yup, it's pretty brutal. The designs were what was all the rage back then. Ugly stucco with faux heritage elements the City just gushed over.

Absolute architectural brutality.
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#33 LJ

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 06:36 PM

Yeah I read the first few pages and thought "hey that's not bad plan", but then you go further into it and look at it and not so much.

 

Gretchen Brewin was the mayor at the time not Pollen, his last stint ended in 1985.


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#34 Nparker

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 06:38 PM

Absolute architectural brutality.

But not to be confused with Brutalist architecture: http://en.wikipedia....st_architecture

DHHS2_by_Matthew_Bisanz.JPG



#35 Mike K.

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 06:40 PM

But of course :)


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#36 dasmo

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 06:51 PM

Still, The developers are also culpable. I give you an example in the opposite. A number of years ago the city launched their effort to revamp the roadways in Vic West. They did their plans and hired a company to begin the implementation (if anyone remembers the company please post it). This company obviously saw that that the plans were ill conceived and too the initiative to put on a public consultation workshop. I was there and we pretty much tore the plans apart. I didn't expect much and they came back at one of the community association meetings with not much changed (as I expected). The reaction was mild outrage. Said company went back and some months later there was a more private meeting that I was in on and wow... they had actually revised the plans in a major way taking into account our feedback. Some of the things changed were replacing the standard traffic islands all up esquimalt rd with green medians next to the sidewalks. (remember the sidewalks right agains the road?). Other things were not simply putting bike lanes everywhere for no good reason. They had them on esq rd, and Kimta with no consideration for the E&N trail. I mean Kimta! They even had them on that tiny section in front of save on and going along wilson to Bay. I almost never see  bikes along that route and I might add it's not a good route to go. I have even broke a chain on that hill. These bike path features were traded for more pedestrian friendly elements....

Anyway, long story short, someone saw the shortfall and took the initiative to make it better... Same could have happen with the Songhees... if a decent and passionate developer got involved... Which obviously did not. Thank goodness they didn't get to the roundhouse then! 



#37 Mike K.

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Posted 23 September 2014 - 07:10 PM

Developers can't afford to re-write community plans unless they've been specifically tasked with doing so.

 

Back then the community and officialdom were gushing over transforming a brownfield site into a residential area. Had a developer approached them and said "the plan sucks, here's my idea," he'd have been blasted out of town.

 

I just don't think officialdom knew how stupid their plan was. We all agree now that it was pie-in-the-sky, feel-good nonsense, but they saw it as progressive and futuristic back then. 

 

Windmill did the same thing with Dockside Green. They forwarded a plan that was ridiculous and their competitors called them out on it but the City insisted it was what they had been dreaming of all along. History literally repeated itself but luckily architectural standards have changed and Dockside Green's already built phases aren't eyesores.


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#38 concorde

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 05:58 AM

As for the Songhees, it was actually the City of Victoria that created the guidelines which developers followed, not the other way around. This is a classic case of poor planning by the City. This is the same era that got us the architectural blights that are Streetlink, Salvation Army, 595 Pandora (which will thankfully be renovated) and quite a few more.

That is true with the Songhees, but I also remember the Jawls wanted the whole thing a la Selkirk.  They said if they couldn't control the quality of the entire development they weren't interested so they passed

 

I don't think Streetlink, 595 Pandora, etc are that bad architecturally speaking.  Compare that to the 1960's addition to City Hall up the street, now that is FUGLY


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#39 Mr Cook Street

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 07:37 AM

That is true with the Songhees, but I also remember the Jawls wanted the whole thing a la Selkirk.  They said if they couldn't control the quality of the entire development they weren't interested so they passed

 

Are you saying that we could have had a Selkirk all along the Songhees? That is too much to bear. I wish I didn't know that.



#40 AllseeingEye

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Posted 24 September 2014 - 07:47 AM

Are you saying that we could have had a Selkirk all along the Songhees? That is too much to bear. I wish I didn't know that.

Sad if true. Can't recall - was Gretchen Brewin the mayor of Victoria at the time? I think its a coin toss between her and Mayor 'Moonbeam' Turner for the most useless city administration over the last generation in terms of (not) getting things "done". I recall he was awful and that she was not much better.



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