DRA Comments on the City of Victoria Draft Strategic Plan 2015 – 2018

Posted on May 12th, 2015 · Posted in City Hall, Letters

Mayor and Council
City of Victoria
No.1 Centennial Square
Victoria, BC
V8W 1P6

28 March 2015

Re: Comments on the City of Victoria Draft Strategic Plan 2015 – 2018

Dear Mayor and Council,

The comments below follow from discussions and consensus reached among community associations at the Victoria Community Association Network (VCAN) meeting held on March 10, 2015, and further discussions at the DRA Board meeting held on March 16, 2015.

Objective 9: Active Transportation Network
Various community associations, including the DRA, submitted priorities regarding safe streets and active transportation initiatives. We would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm the vital importance of these initiatives. We are encouraged that one of the actions in the Strategic Plan is to “manage and create a collaborative neighbourhood process”.

These are the relevant priorities as submitted by the DRA:
• Engage in a participatory neighbourhood approach to solving transportation challenges
• Encourage City Staff to support this participatory neighborhood approach
• Commit a substantial capital budget to achieve active transportation objectives as identified by neighborhoods
• Improve cycling infrastructure by completing the cycling network
• Enhance walkability and pedestrian infrastructure

Objective 3: Planning and Land Use
Various community associations expressed concern at the pace of completion of neighbourhood land use plans that is identified in the Strategic Plan. Many of these plans are very old and in urgent need of updating. The Downtown has benefitted from recently updated plans and the DRA supports other community associations in their quest for updated plans. We recommend a higher priority be allocated for local area plans, so that more plans can be updated quickly.

Objective 2: Engage and Empower the Community
We are encouraged to see initiatives identified in the Strategic Plan, including dedicated staff to work with community associations, great neighbourhoods initiative, participatory budgeting, creation of a neighbourhoods unit, and establishing engagement metrics. We also recommend that the funding model for community associations be clarified, the funding process streamlined, and inequities among neighbourhoods be addressed. A process for reporting on how community input is used in the Strategic Plan process should form part of the initiative to establish
engagement metrics.

Objective 8: Enhance and Steward Public Spaces, Green Spaces
We note that the plan provides for identification of green space opportunities for “have not” park neighbourhoods. We submit that downtown is such a neighbourhood, and this was one of the action priorities identified at the recent Downtown Livability Solutions forum, which was held by the DRA. We would like to see a collaborative process that includes City Staff, representatives of the DRA, and the DVBA, to identify various options for additional park space, that might include small parks, parklets, pop-up parks, and waterfront park space. Regarding waterfront park space, the DRA submitted a detailed plan regarding public realm green space on the eastern approach to the Johnson Street bridge. This submission should be included as one of the 2015 actions in the Strategic Plan.

Thank you very much for the invitation to comment on the Draft Strategic Plan 2015 – 2018, and for your consideration of our comments.

Sincerely,
Nicholas Harrington
Kaela Schramm
Co-Chairs
Downtown Residents Association

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