Sidewalking Quadra Village - Victoria's Eclectic Urban Centre

If you have been reading Sidewalking for a while you will know that one of the things that I think makes Victoria great are all of the little urban centres that radiate around downtown. One of my absolute favourites is Quadra Village. 

Quadra Village is not squeaky clean and trendy like Cook Street Village; it is certainly not as put together as Oak Bay Village, but it is in many ways more interesting than both of those. Quadra Village runs south along Quadra from Market Street to about halfway between Kings Rd. and Bay St. It also radiates out a little ways along Hillside Avenue as well. 

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The things I love about Quadra Village you are really not going to have in many other places in Victoria and that is truly unique one of kind stores and restaurants and that is because the neighbourhood is still considered by many to be a little rough around the edges. The benefit of that is that you have a lower rent for the commercial space. I don't think you would ever see a restaurant as interesting the Caribbean Village or a bookstore like Camas downtown or in Cook Street Village. 

A Few of the Great Shops (Tap to Scroll Through)

That is not to say there have not been little bits of gentrification, but so far they have been positive additions like Part & Parcel, Cafe Fantastico renovation and Cascadia. Each of those places have a certain west coast cool that does not diminish the flavour of the village. 

Going back about 20 years ago the village was less pleasant than it is today. The commercial area was mostly seen as a drive through area. The largest destination store was The Brick (where Fairways is today). The sidewalks were narrow and there was no street furniture to speak of with the exception of the bus shelters. In 2006, the City completed a complete rebuild of the public realm of Quadra Village, expanding sidewalks, putting in unique street furniture and lamp standards. [UPDATE: The Hillside Quadra Neighbourhood Association contacted me pointed out that this was a community led initiative that had its origins in 1996. It was not a City of Victoria project. Read more]in More importantly the traffic was slowed by the addition of traffic islands that make the Village feel more constrained to drivers than it had before. Because of these changes people felt safer walking there and perhaps those drivers now passing by a little slower started to see places that they may want to visit. 

There remains one huge problem with Quadra Village and it will be a hard thing to ever change, and that is the shopping plaza with the Fairways Market in it. I love the Quadra Village Fairways, when it comes to Asian foods (Instant ramen especially) there is no where better outside of Chinatown; the Cascadia liquor store is wonderful; and the IDA drugs is my go to post office, but the shopping centre as a whole is terrible. First of all it is hard as a pedestrian to get from one of the stores here to the rest of village and the shopping centre is focused around the parking lot not the village. I have often dreamt of multi-stage projects that slowly take parts of the centre and rebuild them along Quadra Street while adding some residential density above it but I doubt the owner has any plans to take that on. 

A Little Bit of What Makes Quadra Village Great! (Tap to Scroll Through)

Despite that one negative about the village, it is really worth a walk around. In less than 20 minutes you could look in the windows of one of the most popular bridal shops in the city; see the home of the longest standing rock station in Victoria; walk by the amazing Quonset hut live theatre, the Roxy; visit the only resistance book store I am aware of; get your clothes washed at one of the few remaining laundromats (with the best sign ever!); and finish off with a coffee at one of the nicest looking coffee shops around. Not bad for a village that was written off at the end of the last century. 

What are your favourite places in Quadra Village?

Some Links: Vancouver Island School of Art; Hillside Quadra Neighbourhood Action Committee