By Ben Isitt

Over the next few years, the City of Victoria and several institutional partners, including BC Housing, School District 61 and the Capital Regional District, will reach out to Hillside-Quadra residents to develop a vision and a plan for the neighbourhood.

This process has caused concern for some residents, who remember the experience of top-down community planning in the 1960s and 1970s, and more recently, in relation to the Capital Regional Hospital District’s Summit Project currently under construction at 955 Hillside Avenue.

Other residents are excited for the opportunity to shape a positive vision and roadmap for our neighbourhood for the decades ahead – from refurbishing and expanding affordable housing options; to enhancing neighbourhood amenities, services and facilities; to pursuing opportunities for place-making, traffic calming and other quality-of-life improvements.

Neighbourhood visioning and planning will expose sharp debates, but also present real opportunities for strengthening the organizational, cultural, economic and social fabric of Hillside-Quadra in the near and long-term.

I have therefore helped form an ad-hoc committee with volunteers from the Downtown Blanshard Advisory Committee, Quadra Village Community Centre and Hillside-Quadra Neighbourhood Action Group to ensure a robust, grassroots, democratic and inclusive planning process in our neighbourhood.

To inform this process, I would appreciate your input on a few questions.

What services would make a positive contribution to the neighbourhood? A library branch, serving as a versatile cultural and learning space, as a neighbourhood “living room”? Quality childcare spaces, offered in partnership with the community centre? Enhanced and expanded green space, with opportunities for allotment gardening and naturalized areas? Expanded local enterprises in Quadra Village, offering a range of goods and services? Responsive housing, health and social services, reflecting the demographic and socioeconomic diversity of Hillside-Quadra?

What public processes would help engage you and other residents in developing a neighbourhood vision and plan? Public meetings? Neighbourhood walkabouts? Meet-ups with specific stakeholder groups and communities within our community? “Pop-up” and online engagement opportunities?

Please share your ideas and participate in the grassroots planning process that unfolds in the autumn of 2017 and beyond. This is our opportunity to shape the future of our neighbourhood and city – and everyone has a role to play.

Ben Isitt is City Council liaison to Hillside-Quadra. He lives in the neighbourhood with his family. Ben can be reached at bisitt@victoria.ca or by phone at 250-882-9302.

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