There are a lot of mid-block walkways in Victoria. Some of them are just a parking lot you can cut across and some of them purpose built walkways. For the most part the official walkways that I have documented in past blog posts (Here, here, here, here and here) have been mostly the purpose built ones with some of the unofficial ones mixed.
When it comes to North Park there have not been any purpose built walkways that are open to the public, at least until now that I can think of unless you count Central Park. With the completion of the new 1008 Pandora building there is a real mid-block walkway that goes from Mason Street to Pandora Avenue.
Mid-block walkways are such a great part of the urban experience in Victoria. From a pure efficiency perspective, the walkways provide you options in how you can cut across the city. If you want to access businesses that are only part way along a block, a walkway can save you a lot of time. Another great benefit of the walkways is that as you get to know Victoria (or any city that has them) is that you can make up lots of alternate ways of moving around the city. They might not always be faster but they just give you options. As you learn about these different ways of moving around the city it actually changes your mental map of the city. If there is a way for city planners to work more walkways into the future plans for the city they should, because they are such an amazing treat for pedestrians.
This latest walkway in North Park is not perfect, but it is the first one in North Park that has been purpose-built for people to use to cut across a block. The new project has built a series of townhouses along the western edge of Franklin Green. In front of those town homes the developer has out in a very narrow brick pathway. I think that the pathway should be at least twice the width, but unfortunately either the developer or the city has decided to leave in some sad looking cedar trees here which should have been removed. Hopefully at some put this is realised and the walkway can be expanded. But it is at least here, and that is a plus. From the back corner of the project there is a narrow fenced walkway that does an L-jag to cut through to Pandora. As it is currently set-up this is a pretty dreary utilitarian walk through. I can guarantee I will use it, as it is the perfect direction from me as I move through North Park on my way to work but it isn’t exactly inviting. I think that if the building owner wants to make sure the area doesn’t end up being used for negative purposes, they are going to need to enliven the walls and pathway if it is possible.
The City has a role has in making this work as well. Franklin Green has a wonderful pathway that works its way around the back of the park. With the addition of the new walkway you would have thought that the city would have built a spur that would have connected them, but as of now they haven’t yet. Hopefully this is on the plans for the next few months.
As we see further density come to North Park I am hoping that we are going to see some other dedicated walkways. I already have my unofficial cut-throughs that I use all the time but I am always excited to see a new mid-block walkway. So where else do we need a purpose-built walkway in North Park?