Victoria Common - Grand Boulevard

With its “New Urbanism” vision,
Victoria Common will be a
community within a community

Victoria Common has been conceived as a
pedestrian-friendly place where life’s essentials
are within walking distance. The heart and
social hub of the community is the Piazza, a
fabulous, activities-based urban park that can
be found in the very heart of the community.
With its own clock tower, concert podium,
splash pad/ice rink, the Piazza beckons
pedestrians with public benches and café-style
seating areas, all beautifully landscaped, with
an ambiance that invites friends and neighbours
to congregate.

from the brokers booklet as pictured above

I have spent some time looking for the substance behind this marketing pitch for Victoria Common and I’m having trouble finding it.

Ever since I learned about this project, also known as 1 Adam Street, from Wonderful Waterloo in October, I have been interested in seeing it include a mix of uses so that it can be the type of complete community described. At first I understood that it was to be all residential but then based upon feedback I understood that Queensgate homes was revising the plan to include some retail/food, offices and/or services. So when I saw a city council committee had approved the project and sent it to council tonight, I decided to see what the project included before it was approved and moved forward.

Little planned beyond residential

I’ve been told that the sales centre on Louisa could be converted to commercial space once no longer needed for sales function. The current and proposed zoning does provide for commercial uses in addition to residential. But at this time the developer doesn’t have a firm commercial program, but they are hoping to get some on site. At minimum, they hope to have a restaurant /coffee shop fronting onto the park at minimum.

Is that enough?

Let’s realize the vision being marketed

The city’s draft official plan calls for complete neighbourhoods in part so that people can reduce their everyday use of cars.

This large development strikes me as an opporunity to put the complete neighbhourhood theory into practice–for both the large number of new residents but also the surrounding established neighbourhood. From talking to some residents there really isn’t much out that way to meet everyday needs or encourage people to gather.

What I’m wondering is “Is there anything the city can do to ensure (or at least encourage) the development includes more than residential and maybe a coffee shop?”

It’s wonderful to see such a great project come to life on derelict property with an innovative green energy plan! But I’d prefer to see it fulfill its potential as a complete neighbourhood featuring mixed uses.

I’m told that these things take time. That market forces must be recognized and that the properties across St. Leger have the potential to provide some of the mixed uses I seek.

I do understand that these things take time. Still I believe this development presents and opportunity that we risk missing.

We’re adding lots of people in 958 units but no where to buy an icecream or have their teeth checked. No where to pick up takeout, grab a drink or buy those items you need to complete a meal or wash your dishes.

I thinke we can and should do better with the opportunity in front of us now. It’s how Queensgate is marketing the project.

I think that the city should use whatever tools it has — including persuasion — to ensure that the vision being marketed is realized.

Let’s move ahead with the condo in the first phase but work to ensure Victoria Common contributes the complete community promised.

4 thoughts on “Will Victoria Common be a community within a community?

  1. Very true – mixed use and neighbourhood opportunities are also being missed in Waterloo at the proposed 155 Caroline development. Of course, there are a host of other issues with that development, not the least of which is the plans to move the trail into an alleyway between parking garages. Councils will demand better if we give them enough feedback.

    1. You’re right Mike. Council and city staff must know what we’re thinking if they are to consider it. When something is as wonderful and welcome as Victoria Common, we tend to be thankful and enthusiastically support it. But we should also ask how could it be better.

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