Letter to Parks: Reeson Park – Harbour Pathway Design Review

1715 Government Street Victoria, BC V8W 1Z4 250.386.5503

Thomas Soulliere – Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities City of Victoria No.1 Centennial Square Victoria, BC V8W 1P6

July 31, 2016

Re: Reeson Park – Harbour Pathway Design Review

Dear Mr. Soulliere,

Several DRA Land Use Committee members participated in the recent Reeson Park workshop held recently. Three conceptual designs were presented by City Staff to the public and stakeholder groups.

DRA member feedback included positive feedback for many individual design features found across the three design alternatives. No consensus was reached on a preference for any one of the proposed designs as a whole, which suggests that a hybrid design incorporating the best features be considered.

Our members made the following observations or stated concerns:

Option 1

  1. Not much change to the actual park is proposed and the proposed curved walkway alignment preserves the maximum green space and respects the existing form of the shoreline by not intruding upon it.

  2. This version leaves more of the glaciated bedrock exposed which might be an attractive feature.

  3. The existing grade is a bit steep to have a comfortable picnic lawn.

  4. There appears to be a rather severe CEPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) issue within the plan as the area right below the viewpoint “D” is a 2.5 m drop which creates a “Hidey Hole” for undesirables.

  5. Enhance public safety by provision of an alternate “escape route” for the Harbour pathway at the foot of Yates. Perhaps retain the existing stair for this purpose.

  6. This option looks to be the only one that will facilitate preservation of the wrought iron mooring ring from the remains of Fort Victoria located on the Parks shoreline. Retention and enhancement of this historical artifact is essential.

Option 2

  1. The “Urban Beach” will add potential for downtown residents to relax in a unique and interesting setting.

  2. “Whether we have the weather” to make the urban beach viable might be considered. Maintenance (needles, dog doo) would be an additional concern regarding this version.

  3. Les formal native plantings are a great idea and don’t require irrigation. There is an opportunity to establish native trees like Garry Oak and Arbutus on the rock bluffs within the proposed native planting area. These trees would have been found at this location over a century ago.

  4. The pathway alignment is very linear and should be informal and more curved to complement the urban beach/native planting concept.

  5. The long ramp over the water creates a big hole between the two ramps, probably not attractive up close.

  6. This version cuts into available green space due to the linear path alignment.

  7. Ramps create some CEPTED issues with no alternate “escape routes” provided (which could be fixed by simply retaining the existing stair at the foot of Yates Street).

Option 3

  1. The most formal of the three designs and probably would be popular for events such as Canada Day. This version would be adaptable as a performance space as well.

  2. If the theatre steps were curved it would seem less formal.

  3. The pathway alignment here also cuts more into the green space than Version 1 and has some CEPTED issues.

The DRA membership generally favoured the curvilinear Harbour pathway alignment found in Option 1 (subject to some CEPTED revisions) and retention of the Fort Victoria Mooring Ring. The urban beach and some form of less formal curved theatre steps or a combination of the two were preferred over the sloping picnic lawn of version 1.

Sincerely,

Ian Sutherland Chair Land Use Committee Downtown Residents Association

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