My wife and I had the great pleasure of visiting gorgeous Victoria, British Columbia for five days last month. After some time for reflection, here is my list of ten planning lessons learned from this magnificent city. If there ever were a clear example of a livable city, in North America, Victoria is certainly it.
The planning lessons are presented in no particular order of importance.
- A city focused on its waterfront and on waterborne transportation (water taxis, ferries, seaplanes, etc.) can be very intoxicating and vibrant.
- Linking nature and outdoor recreational opportunities such as kayaking and bicycling with the urban environment is a tremendous way to enhance (as well as explore) a city.
- Swanky food establishments and prototypical chains never reflect the gastronomical heart and soul of a city like its eccentric local hangouts – Red Fish, Blue Fish on Victoria’s Wharf, for example, takes exceptional dining to a whole new level of uniqueness.
- Cherish/preserve your local history, including natural and built, as well as Native and immigrant.
- Blending many diverse cultures is an amazing economic development and tourism tool.
- You don’t need to chop up a city with ugly freeways.
- Great architecture and urban design always (ALWAYS) trumps utilitarianism.
- A stratospheric skyline is not necessary to make a city dynamic, cool, exciting, and hip.
- Even the most scarred terrain (limestone quarries in this case) can be transformed into beautiful amenities with time and tender loving care.