Oak Bay may be the next community in Greater Victoria to permit boulevard gardening.
The idea would follow the City of Victoria, which has laid out an entire set of guidelines that not only outline what’s permitted on a boulevard garden but also supports their creation and maintenance.
Boulevard gardening in Oak Bay is one of 14 concepts on the Oak Bay Community Climate Action Working Group’s long list that they started to whittle down on Tuesday night. The group has been tasked with making five recommendations ahead of next month’s budget approval. It means that something like boulevard gardens could be wrapped into a combined recommendation that includes a provision of education and resources for community food production, noted Coun. Andrew Appleton, chair of the working group.
“This climate action working group has a finite working period for this budget cycle,” Appleton said. “We’ve always said, really clearly, that this is not the end of this conversation.”
Oak Bay council started the budget process this week and already Appleton and council made sure there is a line item in the budget, a placeholder, where the five recommendations will go.
“This is an action-oriented group looking to present the five recommendations as specific, measurable recommendations with a time frame associated,” Appleton said. “This is something citizens want us talking about and want to see us do.”
In the meantime, the working group is considering increased transit options, such as smaller buses, cycling and walking, including matching the City of Victoria’s free bus pass program for youths. Development policies are also on the board such as incentives to encourage multi-family development and fewer requirements for vehicle parking, a program to achieve net-zero for construction and retrofit work and a re-examination of demolition fees to address the true cost of deconstruction.
For now, Oak Bay’s bylaw states that boulevards remain free of plants, rocks or any other items that block people from parking their cars on them. To permit boulevard gardening would require a bylaw amendment and the introduction of guidelines. In Oak Bay, a boulevard is a “portion of a street other than a roadway or sidewalk,” and are municipal property and considered a public place.
In Victoria, the city ran a pilot project from 2014 to 2016 during which time feedback was recorded. The guidelines and policies were adopted in 2016 and are available online.
Appleton said the goal is to finalize the final five recommendations as soon as possible.
“This is something citizens want us talking about and want to see us do,” Appleton said. “And it will keep going. We want to continue that ball rolling.”