May 12th, 2015: An inspirational meeting at the Capital Regional District (CRD) head office with City Councillor and CRD Board member Ben Isitt, City of Victoria senior planner Kristina Bouris, and CRD planners Nikki Elliott and Katie Pearson, on creating “walkable, talkable” cities in Greater Victoria.
The view from the 6th floor boardroom offered a vibrant and uniquely intimate perspective of Victoria that sparked curiosity among our group about the possibilities for metamorphosis of city in the move towards sustainability. In particular, we noticed the many flat, bare rooftops and we pondered the potential for transformation into agricultural treasures. In each of our meetings it was interesting to glimpse the many challenges, triumphs, projections and questions facing planning and sustainable initiatives in Victoria today and in the decades to come as we prepare for our journey to Northern Europe.
During our meeting with Councillor Ben Isitt, we asked about topics we should consider while visiting Europe and discussed the following:
What policies influence the housing supply in European cities, specifically social housing?
How can we minimize urban sprawl? What might an ideal density for an urban community look like?
How can farmland be protected and made more accessible?
What makes walking and cycling more popular in European cities? Why are people in Victoria not biking?
City of Victoria community planner Kristina Bouris spoke about some of the triumphs and challenges of planning in Victoria. She discussed the region’s sustainability targets for the next 30 years, and what this will look like over the next few years. It was exciting to hear that one of the key plans for Victoria’s is to focus on place-making and creating walkable urban villages! This sounds reminiscent of the old European city design that we will get to witness firsthand on our trip!
Nikki Elliott and Katie Pearson discussed a few sustainability initiatives the CRD has been working on throughout the region. It was interesting to hear about their effective water managementstrategies and regulations as well as the education programs they have established behind the scenes. Katie offered ways that students and community members can become involved in protecting and promoting healthy relationships with their environment and greater community, such as the “Ready Set Solve” initiative. We are excited to learn more about our community and get more involved when we return to Victoria!