Vacant Downtown Lot to become Hands-on Classroom for Students and Residents

A vacant lot on Yates Street will soon come to life as a community garden, with the help of downtown residents and University of Victoria students.

1012/14 Yates Street, was the former site of a dry-cleaning business, the property was subject to a provincial remediation order and was recently contained and filled to be considered for future use.  The site has sat vacant for several years after the City purchased it through a tax sale when the property owner did not redeem it.

Environmental monitoring of the site will continue, and City Council has approved the 7200 square foot property for a future community garden for three years while longer term uses continue to be explored.

The University of Victoria will offer its second CityStudio Victoria course, a public policy course, called Growing Community “From the Ground up”. It is an intensive three-week course, starting May 9, 2016, with third year students, and staff working in partnership with the Downtown Residents’ Association and Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.

Students get credit for courses by working on real-world opportunities, together with their classmates, community members and City staff,” said Mayor Helps. “We’re thrilled to learn from CityStudio Vancouver and to be their first CityStudio partner in Canada.”

Students Launch First Downtown Community Garden in Victoria

Transforming a vacant city lot into a community garden required vision on behalf of UVic political science students and their instructor, SSHRC post-doctoral fellow and assistant teaching professor Sarah Wiebe (public administration, political science), and concludes this month with a garden party on May 27 in Victoria’s first downtown community garden.

Not your typical course, “Growing Community From the Ground Up” (POLI 351), involved a partnership between the City of Victoria, the university and the wider community. This is the second City Studio Victoria course offered by UVic.  More on City Studio  More on UVic’s first City Studio course

“This is an innovative policy course informed by placemaking and policy dialogue,” says Wiebe, “and it brings the city, university and wider public into conversation and collaboratively designs a public space for community use.”

Building on new City of Victoria policies designed to grow more food in the city, the currently unused property (1012/1014 Yates St.) presents an unique opportunity for city staff, university students and community members to co-create and launch this new community project.

Over the course of an intensive three weeks, students learned about local government and participatory policy development, as well as community engagement, dialogue and sustainability.