Vil­lage re­newal em­bod­ies team ef­fort

Times Colonist - - The Capital - JEFF BELL

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.

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