Fort Street will be getting a new unique public space next year thanks to a recent $10,000 grant from Coastal Community Credit Union.
The space, known as a parklet, is a public urban park made up of a patio and seating area. It will take up two parallel parking stalls on Fort Street. The exact location is yet to be determined.
The Fort Street Business Association, Fabulous Fort, hosted a pilot event last week, in which four temporary parklets were set up along the 700-block of Fort Street.
“They’re really nice especially on streets like this where there are a lot of cafes to have a place for people to sit down and enjoy their coffee,” said Jayne Bradbury owner of Fort Realty. Bradbury initially came up with the idea for the parklet after seeing them in places such as Vancouver and San Francisco.
“I see the success of them in other cities,” said Bradbury. “I think Victoria has so much potential to become a really fantastic modern city [that] still reflects on its heritage and where it’s come from and respects its history.”
Jayne’s sister Suzanne Bradbury, also of Fort Realty and co-chair of Fabulous Fort, worked on the grant proposal for the parklet.
“The businesses today essentially want to demonstrate to the city how much they support efforts to reanimate our downtown to make it more accessible to people to make it more vibrant for the people that live down here,” said Suzanne. “Spaces like this function almost like a living room for people who live down here and also people who work.”
While the parklet may end up in front of a particular business once the location is decided, Suzanne emphasized it is not meant for customers of one business.
“It has to be open to the public,” she said.
Greg Damant, one of the architects with Cascadia Architects who designed the parklet said the space will add to downtown Victoria’s distinct identity.
“It’s a relatively cost-effective and quick way to revitalize in terms of the streetscape,” he said.
The addition of a public sitting space in an urban area will be a good mix for the city, said Suzanne.
“The most livable cities are cities that are designed to answer the needs of people as well as the needs of cars, so this does that,” she said.
The parklet will be semi-permanent in that it can be put up when the weather is nice through the spring and summer and disassembled during the winter months.
Teri Hustin, co-chair of Fabulous Fort, said the goal is to have the parklet ready by next March.