For the second year in a row, I will be leading a Jane’s Walk, this time in the Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood. The walk starts at 10:00 on Saturday, May 4, at Qu’Appelle Park, which is between Davin and Qu’appelle Streets, near Burnside Road. We’ll then proceed along Burnside and Tillicum Roads, and end around 12:00 at Gorgeous Coffee.
This walk is designed around a series of quotes from Jane Jacobs’ seminal book on city planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.* Employing a unique question-based method, it uses the ideas of Jacobs to encourage participants to observe and engage with their urban environment, build on their own knowledge about the city, and think explicitly about their how their values influence their understanding of the city. The route was inspired by the Tillicum – Burnside Action Plan published by Saanich in 2005.
A few overarching questions will guide our discussions on this walk:
1. Do you know what the Tillicum-Burnside Action Plan suggests for each of the places that we visit today? What kind of improvements have you noticed in this area over the past few years? How do you think such changes should be implemented?
2. What is a neighbourhood? Do you think of the area we’re walking through today as one neighbourhood or many? Are there other neighbourhoods adjacent to our walk? What are their boundaries? What are the benefits and drawbacks of thinking about and planning a city in terms of neighbourhoods?
3. How should local decisions be made? How much power should local residents have? How much power should organizations like the GTCA or higher levels of government have? How can a neighbourhood make its voice heard?
Here’s a map of the route we’ll take:
At each of the following sites, we’ll consider the following ideas from The Death and Life of Great American Cities*, and the more specific questions that go along with them. Moreover, one of the following pictures contains a hidden feature. Can you figure out what it is? Why do you think I’ve chosen this particular feature? How would you answer the related question? Feel free to use the comments below.
1. Qu’appelle Park
“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” (111).
- Does this park succeed according to Jacobs’ criteria? How could it be improved?
2. Commerce vs. Homes on Arterials – Burnside from Davin to Orillia
“To generate exuberant diversity in a city’s streets and districts four conditions are indispensable: 1. The district… must serve more than one primary function… 2. Most blocks must be short… 3. The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition… 4. There must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people.” (150-151).
- How well does the stretch of Burnside Road between Davin and Orillia meet Jacobs’ criteria for a diverse neighbourhood? How could it be improved?
3. Public Sector Infrastructure – Tillicum School
“Schools, like parks, are apt to be volatile creatures of their neighborhoods (as well as being creatures of larger policy). In bad neighborhoods, schools are brought to runiation, physically and socially; while successful neighborhoods improve their schools by fighting for them” (113).
- What role does Tillicum Community School play in this neighbourhood? How does its physical and social presence enhance our neighbourhood? How could it be improved?
4. Transportation Infrastructure – Burnside and Tillicum
“Lack of wide ranges of concentrated diversity can put people into automobiles for almost all their needs. The spaces required for roads and for parking spread everything out still farther, and lead to still greater uses of automobiles” (230).
- In what ways could the highway infrastructure at this intersection be improved? How could other forms of transportation be encouraged?
5. Density, Parking Lots & Major Land Owners – Tillicum Mall, Saanich Centennial Library & Pearkes Arena
“Massive single uses in cities have a quality in common with each other. They form borders, and borders in cities usually make destructive neighbors” (257).
- Does this parking lot create a “border vacuum”? What should be done about it? If new buildings were placed adjacent to the street, with underground parking, how would that enhance the public realm?
6. Successful Mixed Uses? Low Density Commercial & Religious Institutions
“On successful city streets, people must appear at different times… I have already explained this necessity in social terms while discussing street safety and neighborhood parks. Now I shall point out its economic effects. Most consumer enterprises are just as dependent as parks on people going to and fro throughout the day… If consumer enterprises lie idle for much of the day they may disappear” (152-153).
- Is there sufficient density and diversity in this corridor to support storefronts like those in this area? How might we increase the economic viability of commercial enterprises in this area?
7. Commercial Aesthetics & Function – Fairways Complex
“The aim should be to get that project… rewoven back into the fabric [of the city] – and in the process of doing so, strengthen the surrounding fabric too” (392).
- Is the Fairways complex working well now? What strategies might be used to make it more functional and aesthetically pleasing?
8. Finish – Gorgeous Coffee
Gorgeous Coffee offers the “bohemian life of [a] coffee house” (245). Moreover, it is a great neighbourhood place to discuss the issues raised during our walk in more depth.
- Will you join me there after the walk for coffee and more discussion?