Suicide Barriers at a Local Bridge

Over the past couple of weeks, I have talked publicly in the media (links below) and privately about a local bridge where a lot of people have died by suicide. Many people have responded that suicide barriers on bridges will not save lives, because suicide attempts will just be displaced to other locations. However, all of the evidence that I’ve seen from the academic literature and from suicide prevention organizations indicates that suicide barriers on bridges save lives and do not cause much displacement to other locations. Here are the best three articles on this topic that I’ve come across so far:

  • An article from the Lancet called Means restriction for suicide prevention indicates that: “Limitation of access to lethal methods used for suicide—so-called means restriction—is an important population strategy for suicide prevention. Many empirical studies have shown that such means restriction is effective. Although some individuals might seek other methods, many do not; when they do, the means chosen are less lethal and are associated with fewer deaths than when more dangerous ones are available.”
  • An article from the Centre for Suicide Prevention called “Jumping” and Suicide Prevention states that: “Best practices recommend that barriers should be added to sites which become popular, and that they should also be considered as a feature in the design of new structures.”
  • A report by the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto called Suicide Prevention Through Bridge Modification reviews the evidence from the academic literature and concludes that: “Many jurisdictions have erected barriers at bridge locations and found them to be effective in preventing or reducing suicide deaths with little displacement of suicide deaths to other bridges or substitution to other methods of suicide. Other options to prevent suicide on bridges include crisis phones, signage and monitoring and surveillance of the bridge. However, there is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.” In other words, there is better evidence that suicide barriers on bridges are more effective than other means of suicide prevention on bridges.

Based on these articles and my conversations with people on this topic, I have come to the conclusion that suicide barriers are a type of mental health support. They stop people from killing themselves, and give them time to seek other forms of help. For me, this is not a debate about whether we should invest in suicide barriers or psychological support for people experiencing suicidal ideation. Both work. We should invest in both.

In trying to popularize this view, I have been quoted in the following media:

Death of Langford teen spurs calls for barriers along Goldstream Trestle – Times Colonist – Times Colonist, January 16, 2021 – PDF

‘I’m angry and I’m appalled’: Victims’ families join call for safety railings at Goldstream trestle – CHEK News, January 16, 2021 – PDF

In wake of suicide, Island Corridor Foundation wants to address safety on Goldstream Trestle – Times Colonist, January 20, 2021 – PDF

Changes could be coming to the Goldstream trestle after calls for suicide-prevention barriers – CTV News, January 20, 2021 – PDF

Calls for changes, barriers at Goldstream Trestle after Langford teen’s death – Victoria News, January 21, 2021 – PDF. This article quotes a researcher at the University of Victoria as saying that suicide barriers are effective.

Why one Vancouver Island man says barriers are definitely needed at the Goldstream Trestle – CBC Radio, January 21, 2021 – Audio File Unavailable

Group agrees changes to Goldstream trestle are needed – CTV News, January 21, 2021 – PDF. This story quotes a Registered Psychologist as saying that suicide barriers save lives.

If you would like to speak with me about these topics, feel free to reach out at

If you need mental health support, you can reach out to the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1‑888‑494‑3888 or visit ­

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Truly, Falsely & Earnestly Yours

This is my first column as theatre critic for The Quadra Villager:

During the summer of 2005, while I was working on an amateurish attempt at directing The Importance of Being Earnest at UBC, I picked up an anthology of theatre criticism written by Frank Rich for the New York Times during the seminal years between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. Until the last couple of months, that anthology sat tucked away on the top shelf of my bookshelf, half-read and mostly forgotten — much like my youthful attempts at acting and directing.

But then something happened — Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre suspended their season due to the Covid-19 pandemic and released a beautiful video of their Artistic Director, Brian Richmond, speaking from the stage of The Roxy about the ghosts (and the ghost lights) that will inhabit the theatre for the foreseeable future. And then I started thinking about all of the ghosts that I’ve encountered in theatres over the years. I realized that some of the most profound moments of my life have happened while sitting in theatres, surrounded by willing audiences, viewing fictional worlds filled with ghost-like apparitions.

During a performance of Equivocation at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I witnessed my favourite beheading of all time — during which a disembodied head yelled the most true line I’ve ever heard in a fictional universe: “THOU LIEST!” While watching a National Theatre Live production of Julius Caesar, actors covered Caesar’s body and a large portion of the audience with a huge red parachute — symbolically forcing us to touch his blood and implicating us in the assassination of a tyrant. (Did you know that Brutus’ funeral oration is just as good or better than Marc Antony’s more famous speech about Roman’s Ears?) In a high school English class, I discovered the thrill of transforming dead words from the pages of Waiting for Godot into embodied actions on a stage, even while being confronted with the idea that we are given “birth astride of a grave.”

In other words, these fictional moments were the most true lies I’ve ever heard. While everything in a play is fictional, the “alchemy” of the theatre (as my friend Will Weigler puts it) can make it astonishingly true. So I picked up where I left off with Frank Rich in the mid-1980s. I found some of his rave reviews and some which demonstrate his reputation as the “Butcher of Broadway.” His review of Angels In America from 1993 is one of my favourite examples of taut, beautiful writing in any genre, while his review of Leader of the Pack from 1985 contains some of the most superb zingers I’ve ever had the uncomfortable pleasure of reading.

As I read these Rich reviews, I found myself coveting a return to the theatre after many years away, and keenly desiring the opportunity to share those experiences with other people. With most theatres closed down in response to the current pandemic, it feels like a strange moment to start reviewing theatre performances. However, I am heartened to note that the Stratford Festival will be sharing their upcoming season on YouTube. Other opportunities to see live theatre remotely will undoubtedly present themselves during the coming months, and I will be supporting the Blue Bridge’s fundraising campaign as well. So when The Editor of the Quadra Villager offered me the opportunity to share my humble thoughts on the theatre in a semi-regular column, for reasons that I hope are now abundantly clear, I told her that I would do so “truly, falsely, and earnestly.”

Truly, Falsely & Earnestly Yours,

Vincent Gornall

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School District #61 Candidate – Vincent Gornall

Vincent Gornall - SD 61 - WP BANNER CROPPED

I am pleased to announce that I am a candidate to become a School Trustee in the Greater Victoria School District #61. My only ambition as a potential Trustee is to improve the quality and accessibility of education in this District. To do that, I’ve heard that residents of the School District want me to work on the following priorities:

  • Optimizing the use of school facilities to accommodate diverse community needs.
  • Increasing access to high quality before and after school care.
  • Supporting diverse learners in an inclusive environment.
  • Improving school transportation for students.
  • Expanding opportunities for education around food systems and the natural environment.
  • Collaborating with other levels of government to improve local education.

During and after the campaign, I will be listening carefully to members of the community to ensure that as a School Trustee, I can take meaningful action on these and other important issues.

I want to hear what is important to you. What would you like your School Board to accomplish over the next four years? What improvements would you like to see to your community’s school system? How can I help? If you’d like to discuss these issues, please send an email to and we can arrange a time to meet.

You can find out more about the campaign  at and

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Jane’s Walk 2016: We Make The City | We Make The Tour


My Jane’s Walk this year offers something completely different. Participants will collaborate to design and lead the tour. We’ll start with a short meeting at Centennial Square, where you are invited to suggest sites to visit. We’ll pore over a map of Downtown Victoria, and decide as a group which sites to visit. Depending on how many people want to participate, and the distance between the sites we’re interested in, we’ll choose which sites to visit. Then we’ll hit the streets and go to the sites we’ve chosen. At each site, the people who suggested it will tell us why they did so. Then, as a group, we’ll discuss how it fits into the broader theme of this walk – the radically democratic idea that we make the city around us every day.

Here are some questions to consider as you think about what site or sites you want to suggest:

• Are there sites in the Downtown area that are particularly significant to you? Do you associate anywhere Downtown with particular memories? Why?

• Are there buildings, intersections or monuments Downtown that you think should be preserved? Are there others that you think should be demolished? Why?

• Do you associate any sites Downtown with other places and/or times? Why?

We’ll start planning the walk at the Centennial Square Fountain at 6:00 pm on Friday, May 6, 2016. Where we go after that is up to you.

This tour is inspired by a tour I facilitated in 2012 as part of the City Walks series.

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Jane’s Walk 2015 – Rediscovering the Complex Legacy of Urban Renewal in Downtown Victoria

Jane's Walk 2015

In the course of my research on urban renewal in Victoria during the 1950s and 1960s, I discovered an outline of a walking tour of downtown Victoria organized by G.J. Greenhalgh, the City of Victoria’s Director of Community Development. The original tour was given to a group of municipal politicians, architects and arts groups from Seattle in June 1967. Greenhalgh chose the sites to highlight several urban renewal and revitalization projects undertaken by the city and private landowners, and enlisted the help of volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce to show off the city.[1]

Because many of the sites that Greenhalgh decided to include in his walking tour have been contested sites for decades, I decided to reprise his tour for the annual Jane’s Walk festival on May 2, 2015. Because the sites we visited continue to be important today, it was an interesting and intellectually satisfying exercise to retrace Greenhalgh’s steps and discuss the ways in which the history of our city informs how we think about it now.

The Tour

Greenhalgh’s tour was scheduled to last three hours and fifteen minutes, during the afternoon of June 3, 1967, with an hour and a half scheduled for mingling, tea and crumpets at the Empress Hotel after the tour. Here’s what his schedule looked like:

Time Event
1245 Depart C.P.R. Station with 10 Guides. Proceed on foot north on Government to Bastion Square via Bastion Street.
1300 Arrive Bastion, tour Square – main floor of Duncan Building – Birdcage walk etc.
1330 Leave Square – east on Bastion cross Government and proceed through Trounce Alley – North on Broad Street to McPherson Theatre.
1345 Arrive McPherson Theatre. Greeting and short address by Mayor Stephen. Show film “Townscape Rediscovered.”
1420 Leave Theatre and tour Centennial Square.
1445 Depart Square – south on Douglas to 700 block Yates Street. Up North side cross over at Library, down south side and through stores to arcade in rear.
1520 Depart arcade (700 Block View) east on View to Blanshard – south on Blanshard – north on Fort to Vancouver and thence south to Cathedral Precinct, Y.M.C.A., Law Courts etc.
1545 Leave Precinct area proceed by shortest route to Empress Hotel. (Short detour could be made here through Thunderbird Park).
1600 Arrive Empress Hotel for Tea and Crumpets.

Reprising Greenhaglh’s tour for a Jane’s Walk worked well, because he had selected the sites in 1967 for very specific reasons, and those sites continued to play important (but often unexpected) roles in how the city developed in the intervening time. In a strange sense, it was like taking a fifty year long tour in two and a half hours. Here are some of the issues we discussed at each site:

  • Between the CPR Terminal and Bastion Square: Industrial, residential and commercial uses of space around the harbour, and the process of gentrification.[2]
  • Bastion Square: The role of municipal, provincial and federal governments, private land owners and non-profits in creating cultural spaces and maintaining heritage structures.
  • Trounce Alley & Broad Street: Pedestrian and vehicle access to downtown streets and spaces, and the concept of greenways.
  • Centennial Square: Civic spaces, modernist architecture and heritage conservation.
  • 700-Block Yates Street: Urban streets versus suburban malls and Business Improvement Associations.
  • Cathedral Precinct, Y.M.C.A., Law Courts: In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the City of Victoria considered building the new Civic Square and City Hall in the block bounded by Blanshard, Broughton, Quadra and Courtney, rather than at its current site in Centennial Square.
  • Thunderbird Park: Representations of First Nations culture and heritage in public spaces in Victoria.
  • Empress Hotel: Tourism and leisure at local, provincial, national and international scales.

Obviously, this isn’t a complete list of all the issues we discussed or a comprehensive history of each of the sites, but it does give a sense of how each of the sites Greenhalgh visited is related to a long history and to current debates about land use in Victoria.

The Films

My favourite part of the tour was a screening of “A Townscape Rediscovered,” a 1966 film that traces the development of Centennial Square and Bastion Square. This film provides rich imagery of 1960s era Victoria and information about the kinds of things the designers of Centennial Square were thinking about in executing the project. I encourage you to watch it, as well as a similar film produced about urban renewal projects in Vancouver during the 1960s.

During Greenhalgh’s original tour, the screening of “A Townscape Rediscovered,” took place at McPherson Theatre, with an introduction by the Mayor. During the Jane’s Walk this year, City Councillor Margaret Lucas generously donated space for the screening at the Hotel Rialto at Douglas and Pandora. Councillor Pamela Madoff attended much of the walk and provided an excellent introduction to the film, based on her own extensive knowledge of this period of Victoria’s history; she also provided some more information and commentary at some of the sites we visited. I owe a great debt of gratitude to both City Councillors for their assistance and for the work they are doing on behalf of the City.

A related film that inspired some of the revitalization efforts in Victoria during the 1960s was The Story of Magdalen Street, which describes the efforts to enhance a downtown shopping street in Norwich in the 1950s. (The East Anglian Film Archive won’t let me embed the video here, so please do follow the link and take a look at the fifteen minute film.)

The Oversight

Greenhalgh’s original tour glosses over an important aspect of urban renewal in Victoria. By 1967, the municipal, provincial and federal governments were embroiled in the controversial Rose-Blanshard urban renewal project that involved displacing 157 families to build a new school and social housing. Greenhalgh’s tour highlights several downtown urban renewal and revitalization projects that, because they were new, probably impressed his guests from Seattle. It’s not clear from the archival record why Greenhalgh didn’t highlight the Rose-Blanshard urban renewal project in his tour – I can only speculate that he thought that the difficult and incomplete process of urban renewal at Rose-Blanshard would have shed a negative light on the City for his Seattle guests. From his perspective, it was probably a happy coincidence that he didn’t have enough time to take his guests on a tour outside downtown, or that his guests were more interested in issues surrounding the renewal of downtown civic and commercial structures than they were in issues surrounding residential urban renewal projects.

While I think reprising Greenhalgh’s tour was effective at highlighting many of the issues that Victoria has faced over the past fifty years, I think it’s important to remember, commemorate and memorialize the Rose-Blanshard urban renewal scheme, because that project highlights other issues that are just as important. I will be working on a public history project aimed at just such a commemoration and memorialization over the next few months, and will announce details about the project here in the near future.

I am also hoping to lead a similar version of Greenhalgh’s tour next year for the Jane’s Walk festival. If you or a group you’re involved with is interested in taking the tour with me at another time, I would be pleased to discuss the logistics with you. You can find my contact details in the About tab above.

[1] The original tour outline and some correspondence related to the tour is in the City of Victoria Archives, CRS 23 1 A 7, File 2 20.12, Receptions, Official Ceremonies, etc, 1964-1967.

[2] William G. Hamilton & Bruce Simard, “Victoria’s Inner Harbour 1967-1992: The Transformation of a Deindustrialized Waterfront. (Canadian Urban Landscape Examples, Part 9),” The Canadian Geographer, 37.4 (1993): 364-.

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BC Transit Fare Review

Last week, I completed BC Transit’s survey for the 2016 Victoria Regional Transit Commission Fare Structure Review. (The survey is now closed, and a decision on the new fare structure will be made on December 8, 2015. You can find a review of the three options presented in the survey in the Times Colonist and Saanich News reports.) Here’s what I told them in the survey:

I would really like to see increasing property taxes presented in this survey as an alternative to increasing fares. We pay for local roads almost entirely through property taxes and provincial funding, and we don’t toll local roads or bridges. The same should go for transit, which increases everybody’s mobility by reducing traffic congestion. We should not have to pay directly through fares every time we want to use transit, just as people don’t have to pay a user fee every time they take their car out of their driveway. 

Any of the changes suggested in this survey will lead to me using the bus less frequently, reducing my mobility. Eliminating transfers, as option 3 suggests, would mean that I would have to buy a car rather than relying on the combination of transit, cycling and walking as I do now; it would simply be too expensive and inconvenient to pay multiple fares on multiple buses to get where I need to go. As transit planner Jarrett Walker says, “Charging passengers extra for the inconvenience of connections is insane. It discourages exactly the customer behavior that efficient and liberating networks depend on. It undermines the whole notion of a transit network.”

If you’d like to say something similar to your Transit Commission members in advance of the December 8 meeting, you can find their contact details here.

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The City Walks – In the Shadow of Mega-Events: Protests, Policing and the Military in Victoria

You are invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of mega-events and police-military connections in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Adam Molnar’s lecture, In the Shadow of the Spectacle: Security Legacies in the Olympic City, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Centennial Square
Date: March 29, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Join the walk on Facebook.
Click here for a map of the sites we’ll visit and the route we’ll take.

Here are the sites we’ll visit and some of the questions we’ll discuss:

Centennial SquareCentennial Square

  • How has this site been used by protestors, particularly by anti-Olympics groups and the Occupy movement?
  • What makes it an attractive site for protesting?
  • How is it designed to be easily policed? What physical and legal technologies have been employed here to control protestors?

Bastion BricksBastion Outline on Government Street

  • What was the Bastion originally created for? How was it related to forms of civil, military and commercial power?
  • How is the Bastion represented now? How and why was the brick outline created?
  • Given the variety of heritage plaques, First Nations inspired art, and cultural institutions in the vicinity, how should we interpret this site? How is our experience of this place structured by the information embedded in the landscape?
  • Does the fact that the cannons were fired during a dispute with First Nations people in 1844 appear in any of the heritage interpretation signs at this site?

View of SonghesSonghees Lookout

  • Are you aware that the Songhees First Nation used to have a reserve at Songhees Point? Do you know why the Songhees were encouraged to move there in the 1840s?
  • How do you think Victoria would have been different if the reserve had remained across the harbour in Vic West, rather than being moved to Esquimalt in 1911?
  • Do you know about the totem pole that was raised at Songhees Point to celebrate the Commonwealth Games? How else were First Nations involved in the Games?

Ship Point Navy Sculpture

  • What does this statue say about Victoria’s relationship with the military? What does it ask us to remember? What does it ask us to forget? How is it used by residents and tourists?
  • Does it seem odd that one of the main pieces of sculpture here lists a number of corporate sponsors?

Commonwealth Games Commemorative Sign

  • Are the Commonwealth Games generally remembered positively or negatively by residents of Victoria? Do you remember Expo 86 or the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver as being more controversial than the Commonwealth Games?
  • Were you aware that “designated demonstration areas” were set up at all Commonwealth Games venues? Did you know that Games organizers used a number of security measures, including “the placement of surveillance cameras in the Inner Harbor, … photo-IDing of sex-trade workers, and the removal of the homeless from the city’s inner core”?1 How do you think these measures influenced the public’s perception of the Games and of Victoria?
  • What organizations control and manage this area? What effects might this have on the Causeway as a public space?

Legislature Grounds

  • What do you know about the Canada Day bomb plot? Do you recall how it was reported by the media and handled by the police and courts? What do you think of the so-called “Mr. Big” investigative technique?
  • What effect do you think threats like the Canada Day bomb plot (and the reporting about them) have on large public gatherings in Victoria and elsewhere? How do you sort out the various risks and benefits of public gatherings and demands for increased policing?
  • Has the nature and policing of large events at this site changed over the past few decades? How is it used differently for protests, celebrations, state occasions and tourism?
  • How do you feel about the war memorials near this site? How are they used for Rememberance Day and other commemorative ceremonies?

1Steen Hume, “(Re)Locating the Local in the Global: Theorizing Cultural Politics during the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games,” MA Thesis, University of Victoria, 1998.

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GTCA Newsletter Contribution: Could Car-Sharing be Around the Corner?

The following article appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of the Gorge Tillicum Neighbourhood Association’s Newsletter.

Do you want to save money, protect the environment, build a stronger community, and enhance your personal mobility? If you do, you might want to join the Victoria Car Share Co-op.

Membership in the Car Share offers a number of benefits:

  • You get access to a large fleet of different kinds of vehicles, so you can drive one of those cute Fiats one day and use the pickup truck for hauling furniture the next.
  • Rather than paying for large “sunk costs” like insurance and registration, only to leave your car parked most of the day, with car sharing you only pay for the cars when you’re using them. This can reduce your costs by thousands of dollars a year.
  • By encouraging you to use more sustainable transportation options more of the time, while allowing you to use a car when you really need to, car sharing can help reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Because members spend more time walking in our neighbourhood and cooperating to provide public goods, car sharing can help enhance our community well-being.

Since car sharing also tends to benefit other drivers by reducing congestion, it’s in everyone’s interest to have a co-op car in the neighbourhood. Getting a car in the neighbourhood, preferably in a central location near Pearkes Arena, is a goal supported by the GTCA Board. It would also help support the Sustainable Saanich Official Community Plan, which includes encouragement for Co-op cars.

Because each car has to be self-supporting through members’ use fees, there has to be a sufficient density of members in a neighbourhood before the Co-op will consider placing a car here. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough members of the Co-op living in Gorge-Tillicum for them to justify placing a car here. It’s the old “chicken-and-the-egg” problem – without enough members, there will be no Co-op car in the neighbourhood; without a Co-op car in the neighbourhood, there are fewer people who are willing to join the Co-op.

There are a couple of ways you can help:

  • If you’re interested in joining the Co-op, you can find out how to do so at There are a number of low-cost membership options that you might qualify for.
  • If you’re not ready to join right away, but think that having a car in the neighbourhood would benefit the community or make it easier for you to join later, you can fill in the Car Request Form. That will let the Co-op know that there are people interested in having a car nearby.
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Event Listing: The City Talks – The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City


Please join The City Talks for the second lecture of Spring 2014.

The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City
Steve Herbert
Professor and Director, Law, Societies, and Justice Program and Department of Geography, University of Washington

Monday, February 24
Doors Open at 7:00pm
Lecture Begins at 7:30pm

This is a free public event at the Legacy Art Gallery ~ 630 Yates Street

Run by the Committee for Urban Studies at the University of Victoria, The City Talks is a free public lecture series featuring distinguished scholars drawn from the University of Victoria, across Canada, and beyond. This Spring our lectures, on the theme of Security and the City, explore the contested terrain of security and surveillance in contemporary cities.

The lectures last an hour and a half, including a question and answer session with the author.

For more information, please visit


You are also invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of poverty and the pursuit of social justice in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Steve Herbert’s lecture, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Store and Fisgard, across the street from Swift House
Date: March 1, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Click here for an outline of the tour.
Join the walk on Facebook.

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The City Walks – The Paradoxes of Place: Policing Poverty & Pursuing Social Justice in Victoria

“The key political challenge… is to replace the fear-inducing language of ‘disorder and decline’ with a more capacious, just and inclusive public discourse… Such a political appeal would aim not at fear and castigation but at the human capacity for empathy and respect.”

̶Katherine Beckett & Steve Herbert in
Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America

You are invited to participate in a discussion based walking tour on the policing of poverty and the pursuit of social justice in Victoria. In partnership with The City Talks, this walk will take up some of the themes in Steve Herbert’s lecture, The Battles in Seattle: Paradoxes of Social Control in a Seemingly Progressive City, and apply them to sites in Victoria.

Here are the details:

Meet: Store and Fisgard, across the street from Swift House
Date: March 1, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Join the walk on Facebook.

Here’s a map of the sites we’ll visit and the route we’ll take:

During the walk we’ll consider these broad questions:

  • How is poverty policed in Victoria?
  • How is poverty discussed, experienced and explained by regular citizens, mainstream media, police, activists, academics, service providers, and most importantly, the poor themselves? Does the way we think and talk about poverty need to change?
  • How should we pursue social justice? What types policies should we implement to alleviate poverty?

Here are the sites we’ll visit and some of the questions we’ll discuss:

Store & FisgardSwift House

Centennial SquareCentennial Square

  • How is Centennial Square physically constructed to encourage certain uses, while discouraging others?
  • How has Centennial Square been used historically by marginalized groups, like hippies or homeless people (Midenhall, 24)?
  • How has it been used more recently by protest groups, like the Occupy Movement or anti-Olympics protestors?
  • How has it been used by more conventional groups, like the Downtown Victoria Business Association?
  • Why does the City of Victoria ban people from “squatting, kneeling, sitting, or lying down” and putting “any structure, tent, object or thing” on sidewalks or medians? How are these provisions enforced? What groups do they disproportionately apply to? How do civic regulations like these, symbolized by City Hall, affect people at some of the other sites we’ll visit today?

GVPL Central Branch

GVPL Central Branch Courtyard

  • Is this public space or private space? Does the privatization of public space create tensions between the institutions and their users?
  • How is this space controlled and regulated? Who is allowed to use this space? When and how are they allowed to use it?

Provincial Court

  • In 2010, the Victoria Integrated Court was formed. Rather than funding judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys, police and probation officers, and other justice system officials to coordinate social programs, would it make more sense to fund increased income assistance, supportive housing, and addictions treatment instead?
  • Is it a problem that “the police presence on the team means that some clients who could benefit from team support are reluctant to be engaged with law enforcement” (VICOT Annual Report 2012, 4)? Should laws be changed so that we no longer “criminalize some aspects of economic marginalization” (Beckett & Herbert, 152; also see Out of Sight, 33)?
  • Does it concern you that the DVBA prioritized business interests in creating the Victoria Integrated Court?
  • Do programs like Victoria’s Integrated Court create the risk of a conflict between citizens’ rights to a fair hearing in court and their rights to access social services?


Pioneer Square

  • The BC Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling that allows camping in municipal parks has implications for “the debate over negative and positive rights,” the “underlying sociological issue of homelessness,” and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ “potential for effecting transformative change” (Young, 105). (The ruling was upheld by the BC Court of Appeal in 2009.) What are these implications?
  • Do you agree with the current municipal regulations governing camping in parks? What unintended effects might these regulations have? How else might homelessness be dealt with?
  • In what ways did recent changes to Pioneer Square physically change the park? How might these changes affect homeless, poor and otherwise marginalized users of the park?

900-Block Pandora900-Block Pandora

References/In-Line Citations

Posted in Events, Homelessness, Housing, Law, Public Space, University of Victoria, UVic, Walking Tours | 2 Comments