Douglas Street gets set for a facelift

Douglas Street will be receiving a facelift in the next few months, as part of a local organization’s attempt to revitalize downtown.

Douglas Street will be receiving a facelift in the next few months, as part of a local organization’s attempt to revitalize the downtown core.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) has launched the Douglas Street improvement project, in partnership with the City of Victoria and the Downtown Victoria 2020 Conference Society.

As part of the pilot project, a number of improvements will be made to the intersection of Douglas and Yates streets to enhance and animate the look of the street for tourists and residents, and encourage both cyclists and pedestrians to use the streets.

For several years, Douglas Street, also known as the grand avenue to downtown, has looked tired and in need of improvements, according the association.

“Right now, it’s kind of a street that people drive through to get down to the other end of the city, but there’s lots to celebrate on Douglas Street,” said Fran Hobbis, past chair of the DVBA and current member of the executive.

“I found it kind of sad that Douglas Street has become somewhat neglected. There are some street and social issues in that area. There’s not a lot happening in terms of the major downtown area . . . but there didn’t seem to be much action in that regard.”

That’s when the association decided to take action.

It hosted a design charrette roughly a year ago with downtown stakeholders to set out a two to 20-year plan for the future of Douglas Street, which they later presented to Victoria city council.

In the spring, the association will begin implementing a number of on-street elements outlined in the plan.

While Hobbis wanted to keep many of the elements a surprise, she hinted they could include non-permanent interactive lighting, changing the look of the bus shelters, and introducing the idea of retail kiosks, with a twist on food trucks.

“We think it could be the beginning of something new for a major downtown thoroughfare,” she said, adding the fixtures will be around throughout the summer and will continue into the fall based on public opinion. “It’s a way to try something different for the area.”

Hobbis hopes the $180,000-pilot project will not only encourage the city to invest in the revitalization of Douglas Street, but also set a new standard for the rest of the roughly two kilometre street.

If the project is successful, it could expand to other downtown streets including Government and Blanshard as well.