by Yule Heibel on May 10, 2005

For Mother’s Day I got a “pro” account at Flickr, which means I can indulge in uploading a million photos that “document” some of the ubiquitous development projects happening in Victoria. I’ll tag them all with “urban development,” although some will be more “residential” than “urban” — many projects are downtown, but others are on the fringe, or in residential areas, or else in reclaimed industrial areas being converted to mixed residential and commercial use (the “Upper Harbour” is one example of the latter). The main tag for all of them will be “urban development,” but when I have some time, I’ll try to figure out how to make sets, and I’ll add additional tags to sort them into categories.

To start with tonight, I uploaded a handful of the brick wall photos which I took last February, but which I didn’t get to upload at the time because I exceeded my free account’s limit. The brick wall is part of the “Cathedral Hill” development on the toward-downtown edge of Fairfield. Since shooting the photos of the brick wall nearly three months ago, I met some people who bought a condo in the proposed development, and they swore that the developer has now decided to integrate the wall as part of the overall plan. I.e., the wall will not be demolished.

Then, last March, the son and I went to the Upper Harbour to photograph the proposed Dockside development site, which is currently still heavily polluted and needs further remediation, but which eventually is supposed to garner a platinum certification from the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. On the far end of the trail along the Harbour, there’s a residential development that’s already finished and largely sold: the Railyards (a series of cute cookie-cutter townhouses in pomo Euro-style). What’s very nice is the public access to the trail and the water.

The uploading to Flickr takes forever.

Tonight, while it was still light, I took myself to the Humboldt Valley section of Fairfield/ downtown and photographed the several projects happening around the Fairfield Road/ Blanshard Street/ Humboldt Street area. The landmark Empress Hotel is visible from the rise, as are the rooftops of the Parliament Buildings, all icons of tourism. In addition, this area is the site of St. Ann’s Academy, once (incredibly) in the viewfinder of the wrecker’s ball, but since then saved and declared a heritage building. Its walled grounds are idyllic, with apple orchard and a sort of meditative walking garden, right on the edge of downtown. Across the street was St. Joseph’s Hospital, now turned into an apartment. Next to it, a new building, Mount St. Mary’s, is home to a pretty grand-looking assisted living facility. I didn’t photograph these buildings, but instead focussed on the residential development already taking place, as well as slated to take place or in progress. There’s a modest, older wooden church across the road from St. Ann’s, at the corner of Blanshard and Humboldt. This building is set to be dwarfed by four “high rises” (around 10 to 15 stories, which is considered high around here). I took quite a few shots of the Belvedere development across the street, currently in a state of having the foundations and parkade excavated. It’s quite interesting: the excavation abuts right up to the sidewalk, which perches over this huge pit, and the only thing that separates you from it is a light metal fence. A couple of the pictures include my foot or my hand, for scale, but that device actually didn’t work very well. I thought it was more effective when I focussed on the site materials, which often created abstract patterns. I also loved the fence, which helped create a grid across the plane of the photographed image. In the background of many of these photos, you can see the Empress as well as the now-defunct Crystal Gardens, which used to be an exotic bird sanctuary, but is now scheduled to be transformed into another Disneyfication episode, with a virtual experience of BC. (Barf.)

Finally, I took myself back to the Bambu site in Chinatown, but then my camera battery conked out. However, I did get a couple of shots, mainly showing that excavation and wrecking has started there, too. It looks very very different already from what I photographed last summer. But uploading those will have to wait until tomorrow at least…

Since the uploading takes so long, the Humboldt Valley photos, along with Bambu, will both have to wait until tomorrow. There are links to all these developments (and of course to my page at Flickr, too), but again: tomorrow. I’ll edit this, edit the photos with tags/ labels, maybe sets, but not just yet….

{ 1 comment }

Gary Williams May 16, 2005 at 1:36 am

I downloaded the Flickr uploading tool, which seems to work fine (but do take a lot of time…). If I ever get a job again, I’ll probably upgrade to Flickr Pro, but right now I’m only capable of freebie…

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