Victoria, BC – City councillor and CRD director Ben Isitt is challenging Victoria and Saanich councillors, residents, and the region’s construction community to “think big and dream big” in developing a Master Plan for the area of under-utilized land straddling the two municipalities, which he describes as “Midtown.” Isitt will urge joint action on a Midtown Master Plan at a joint meeting of Victoria and Saanich councils taking place at Saanich Municipal Hall on Wednesday, February 29 at 4PM.
Isitt defines “Midtown” as the 1.8-square kilometre area of car lots, strip malls and single-storey buildings bounded by Blanshard to the east, Caledonia/Chatham to the south, Government/Gorge/Whittier to the west, and Boleskine/Saanich to the north. He suggests there is value in moving beyond the term “Douglas Street Corridor,” which he describes as “too narrow geographically” and “hindered by unrealized proposals from the past.”
“Midtown offers the promise of thousands – possibly tens of thousands – of affordable homes for working people and those needing supports,” Isitt says. “It offers the promise of years of family-supporting jobs for builders in the various trades. It offers the promise of clear expectations and a fair return on the investment for builders and land owners. To residents, developers and decision-makers, Midtown offers the promise of preventing acrimonious land-use battles by locating higher density outside of our older neighbourhoods and the region’s farms and forest lands.”
“To the public, Midtown offers the promise of new greenspaces and parks, and mass transit, pedestrian and cycling greenways between established neighbourhoods and the commercial centres of Victoria and Saanich,” Isitt says. “It offers the promise of an enlarged tax base for the two municipalities. Finally, Midtown offers the promise of transforming this currently unattractive urban wasteland of parking lots and single-story buildings into an innovative, sustainable 21st-century community with vibrant street-level life that can provide an example to cities elsewhere in Canada and beyond.”
Isitt challenges his council colleagues in Victoria and Saanich to “think big and dream big,” proposing a working group of planners, builders, architects, social-service providers, residents and land owners to begin developing a Midtown Master Plan. He points to the role of master planning in shaping development in Vancouver’s False Creek and Yaletown, which, though not perfect, provide examples of how cities can spearhead the transformation of underutilized urban land into vibrant communities.
Isitt will elaborate his vision for Midtown at the joint meeting of Victoria and Saanich councils at Saanich Municipal Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at 4PM.
“A Midtown Master Plan” Discussion Paper (0.2MB PDF)
Submitted to Victoria and Saanich councils on Feb 29, 2012
Listen to an interview on CFAX 1070 radio with Murray Langdon, where I discuss the benefits of a Midtown Master Plan:
Link to CFAX interview, February 28, 2012
Download CFAX interview Podcast