We will start at the Point Hope Shipyard lookout at 9:00 am, and follow Harbour Road and the Galloping Goose trail to Banfield Park, stopping at eight points along the way. The walk will end at Sprial Café, across the street from the Vic West Community Centre, about 1.5 hours later. Here’s a map, showing the route and the points at which we will stop for discussion:
At each of the points shown above, we’ll stop to talk about how they relate to Jane Jacobs’ seminal book on city planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.* I have designed the walk around a series of quotes from the book, and suggest some questions below to get us talking. Here’s where we’ll be stopping, complete with quotes, discussion questions and photographs:
1. Point Hope Shipyard Lookout: “Of course reeking smokestacks and flying ash are harmful, but it does not follow that intensive city manufacturing… or other work uses must be segregated from dwellings. Indeed, the notion that reek or fumes are to be combated by zoning and land-sorting classifications at all is ridiculous. The air doesn’t know about zoning boundaries” (232). Should industrial uses be permitted near housing? What are the tradeoffs in maintaining industrial uses in our city (e.g. good jobs versus pleasant residential surroundings)?
2. Dockside Green/Cafe Fantastico: “To generate exuberant diversity in a city’s streets and districts four conditions are indispensable: 1. The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two… 2. Most blocks must be short; that is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent. 3. The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce. 4. There must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people, for whatever purposes they may be there…” (150-151). To what extent does Dockside Green live up to Jacobs’ conditions for diverse city districts? How could it be made better?
3. Public Space vs. Private Space: “Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects” (35). What are the implications of private developers providing public amenities?
4. The Railyards/Selkirk Station: “There are fashions in building. Behind the fashions lie economic and technological reasons, and these fashions exclude all but a few genuinely different possibilities in city dwelling construction at any one time” (216). Compare the scale and density of The Railyards with those found at Dockside Green. Which is more human scaled? Which serves her four conditions for city diversity better?
5. Selkirk Trestle/Historic Preservation: Not really addressed by Jacobs, but I think it’s a marvelous example of what she’s talking about when she addresses the subject of old buildings being reused for new and innovative purposes.
6. “Derelict” Boats: “The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce.” This statement bears repeating as some locals argue for the removal of these boats from the bay beside Banfield Park. Are the boats simply polluting eyesores, or do they provide necessary housing? What would their removal say about the inclusivity of our neighbourhood?
7. Banfield Park/Vic West Community Centre: “The more successfully a city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and support well-located parks that can thus give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods instead of vacuity.” Does this park succeed according to Jacobs’ criteria? How could it be made better?
8. Spiral Cafe: Despite current (and soon to be complete) construction, Spiral is a great neighbourhood place for discussing our walk in more depth if participants want to. It is close to a bus stop if people want to leave right away.