Village renewal embodies team effort
Bricks and mortar help, but it takes a lot more than that to create a village and the sense of community that comes with it.
In the Quadra-Hillside neighbourhood, an eight-year effort to transform an area with a reputation of being rough around the edges is virtually complete, and the dividends are starting to pour in.
Victoria Coun. Dean Fortin, council’s liaison for Quadra-Hillside, said the area’s reputation has been “hard to shed,” but stressed that the progress made over the course of the Quadra Village Streetscape and Safety Project is tough to dismiss.
From the notable drop in the amount of graffiti to an infusion of commercial activity, the neighbourhood enclave on the lip of the city core has turned an important corner, Fortin said. All told, the community raised $63,000 from business and individual contributions to support the project, a total equalled by the city in a matching-funds program to spur local improvements.
Also part of the process was an $865,000 street upgrade that served to drop the Quadra-Hillside intersection from its longheld position in the top-10 list of local accident sites.
Fortin said the increase in the number of businesses is having a big effect throughout the area.
“Isn’t that the wonderful thing that all of this investment both from the commu- nity and the city brings? You have Fairways moving in, you know that’s going to make a huge difference to the area. Already the city has seen more and more interest in developments, whether it be residential or business applications, all coming in.
“There’s a recognition that this neighbourhood, which has been in transition, has now become one of the neighbourhoods people want to be part of.”
Business owners and residents have been the key to the turnaround, Fortin said.
Shellie Gudgeon, owner of Fifth Street Bar and Woodfire Grill, said the work done on the project is the ultimate example of a group effort.
“It’s been a collaboration, from residents to all the businesses. The Q [radio station] has been tremendous. There’s been some great support.”
The Hillside-Quadra Neighourhood Action Group and members like Elinor Rhynas led residents’ participation, Gudgeon said.
Rhynas pointed to the dedication of the entire group. People in the area are proud of where they live, she said.
“It’s community, it’s people, it’s individuals, it’s all working together. We don’t need to compete with anyone, we like what we are.”
What Quadra-Hillside is is a diverse community with many different aspects, Gudgeon said.,
“We have everything from the methadone clinic to big business, medium business, the Salvation Army. It’s an inclusive neighbourhood, and I think that’s where our strength will be realized.”
Fortin summed up the effect of the changes, and the addition of elements like bike racks, benches and street banners.
“There’s way more interaction that hap- pens on the street, fewer problems, more eyes on the street and a lot more safety,” Fortin said. “People care.”
The closure last June of Burnside Community School hasn’t left an empty building in the neighbourhood, thanks to the combined efforts of the Burnside Gorge Community Association and the Greater Victoria School District.
The former school at 3130 Jutland Rd. has re-emerged as the Burnside Campus, with the community association assuming the lease and taking charge of renting the facility to an array of community groups. The public is invited to tour the building and meet its new tenants today at a 4-7 p.m. open house.
Parking is available on both Cecelia and Jutland roads.
Elinor Rhynas, left, of the Quadra-Hillside Neighbourhood Action Group, and Shellie Gudgeon, of Fifth Street Bar and Woodfire Grill, celebrate the revitalization of Quadra Street Village at a recent cake-cutting ceremony.