Our Mission: to inspire people, neighbourhoods and communities to create vibrant public places that promote health, happiness and well-being.
What a year...Thanks to YOU!
As community-based placemakers, we at Greater Victoria Placemaking Network (GVPN) are fascinated  to see how our sense of place evolved throughout the year, and grateful for our community's response. 'Stay home' was a prevailing message of 2020, but people need people, and we need healthy ways to connect in our shared, public spaces.

Despite huge challenges, people in Greater Victoria showed great creativity and perseverance to shift to new ways of connecting. ❤️

Early in the pandemic, we were told not to gather at all, and even being seen out in public spaces seemed somewhat suspect. For a few weeks in March and April, the busiest streets in town went quiet. Businesses shuttered or went delivery only. Bike racks and playgrounds were taped off. Even Victoria’s network of Little Free Libraries was initially challenged. Many owners taped up their boxes or removed books to discourage sharing, in case the virus was easily transmitted on book surfaces. 

What did placemaking or public space mean if no one was out? 

It certainly felt like it would be an “off” year... As our understanding of Covid-19 grew, however, it became clear that the healthiest places were outdoor spaces and a lot could still be done. 

On neighbourhood walks we heard the happy chorus of 7pm noisemakers - people banging pots and pans or cheering from porches and playing instruments - all in support of healthcare workers. There was such a craving for human contact in public that window signs, community boards, and chalk art sprouted up throughout.  From uplifting messages to dad jokes, to writing the names of local vegetation,
mapping fairy gardens, or putting hearts up on windows, many communities came together.

To foster placemaking and art, we distributed hundreds of pieces of sidewalk chalk in little bundles to little free libraries around the CRD, encouraging people to chalk their walks and share their photos with #chalkyourwalk
Busier streets quickly began to be transformed to accommodate more walkers (and greater physical distancing). We advocated successfully for new walking lanes in commercial areas, where sidewalks were inadequate and parking demand low. As spring turned to summer, downtown businesses began to build outdoor patio spaces and parklets, facilitated by Build Back Victoria's speedy permits and fewer regulations.

The Amazing Places podcast was launched by Dean Murdock to celebrate dynamic people-centered places. In the fall, we had a virtual AGM with guest speaker and urban neuroscientist, Dr. Robin Mazumder. Dean joined our Board, along with placemaking leaders Michelle Mulder (author of Home Sweet Neighborhood) and Katie Fillion (who over the holidays has been helping with the encampment for those displaced by the flood at Central Park).

Humboldt Plaza

Along Victoria’s popular new bike route from Wharf connecting to Humboldt at Douglas, you may have spotted our mural in this little plaza with a ping-pong table installed by the City. 
We stepped up to brighten this intersection with a 4 colour ‘road mural’ with a little (a lot!) of help from the City of Victoria My Great Neighborhood Grant Program. Since almost no project can happen without collaboration, artist Mateusz Napieralski designed this ping-pong inspired graphic and joined us with a few socially distanced volunteers for the paint-in.

Broad St.

How did this happen?
Music provided and curated by Pagliacci’s restaurant. Over the summer, the street saw a few pop-up opera performances by Pacific Opera, and musicians from the City's artist roster. 

Between Fort & Broughton, on Broad - local businesses came together with the DVBA to close the street to vehicles during business hours. 

We partnered with the businesses, the City of Victoria, and Cascadia Architects to design and install a suite of placemaking elements. With funding from the My Great Neighbourhood Grant Program, GVPN and partners added:

  • planters and plants
  • colourful wooden movable seating pods - Thanks to Cascadia Architects for the design, HansenBuilt for the construction, and Cloverdale Paint for their paint donations.
  • a ‘Books on Broad’ little free library box
  • decorative overhead lights

Barricades were originally slated to be removed at the end of October, but general support for this street ‘closure’, or 'opening' (as we prefer to call it!) has allowed the Broad St. pedestrian block to remain until further notice. 

FireFly Trail
Over in Banfield Park in Vic West, we recently added solar-powered lights to create Victoria’s first FireflyTrail. The lights fluctuate with the winter days, echoing the sun’s energy at night, giving a different experience every evening: from a scatter of glowing fireflies to bright and dazzling.

It’s now an alluring path to walk or bike through - a bright spot in our shorter, darker days...
Enjoy and share the magic!           #YYJfirefly
Happy City 

We were delighted this year when local residential development company Lapis Homes came to us with a unique offer: they would purchase 300 copies of the book Happy City by Charles Montgomery if we would distribute them to little free libraries (LFL). What an offer!

We share Lapis owner Ryan Jabs’ enthusiasm for the book (we had Charles speak here a few years ago), so we teamed with him and Charles to obtain the books, get them signed, stamp them, and deliver them to 300 book exchange boxes. 
If you find any of these books at a local LFL...
post your discovery with
Pocket Places

This project helps map, build, and stock the little free libraries around town.

We hit some major milestones this year!

In May, we cut the ribbon on the 300th LFL in the CRD, the 350th was installed in September, and as the new year begins we are poised to see the 400th! With volunteer support, we are also close to delivering our 20,000th book since the project began three years ago...
“The Moss Rocks Little Library, with its accompanying benches, is a place you can sit and relax while perusing one of the treasures within,” explains Jim Pungente, builder of the 300th LFL, which is located conveniently next to a bus stop at the corner of May St. and Joseph St.

As we move into 2021, we are very encouraged by the new sense of shared public space that is evolving in Greater Victoria, and the energy for multiple types of placemaking projects. 

From our Board (above, on a Zoom call) and Members at the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network!

Thanks to our many volunteers across the community for your ideas, hard work and commitment to making places better together.

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