A Victoria community has come together on a project that shows how public spaces can spark community resilience and foster connection in times of crisis.
Through emergency preparedness workshops hosted by Victoria’s Connect and Prepare program which incorporated design processes with local planning and design studio, Neighbour Lab, Victoria West residents have created a shared-emergency supply bench in their community.
Neighbours will soon be celebrating the new bench which activates an underused public space.
The bench design is inspired by the coastal waters of the region and is equipped with varying and accessible seating and table options, internal storage for emergency supplies, a solar powered charging station, and a community bulletin board that includes local emergency information.
The bench is located alongside the Galloping Goose trail where people can rest and enjoy a conversation with a neighbour. In the event of an emergency, such as an earthquake or extreme weather event, neighbours can use the bench as a meeting spot to share information, charge their cell phones and access emergency supplies.
“We began this project in February of 2020, and over the past 15 months, society’s perception of community has been forcefully redefined. For many of us, community was reduced to those we lived with and saw on screens,” says Neighbour Lab’s Creative Director, Emi Webb. “That’s what makes the timing of this install so pertinent. In the midst of a pandemic, we managed to encourage the dialogue of resilience and the importance of neighbourly connections. The unveiling of this project, just over one (long) year later at a time when society is beginning to get back outside and enjoy public spaces is incredible. Over the past 2 weeks of working on the corner of Harbour Road, we’ve gotten to chat with strangers and remind them of the true meaning of community and how important these public spaces are for fostering conversation and building relationships that contribute to the making of happy and healthy cities.”
The Harbour Road Neighbour Hub is the third community shared infrastructure project developed by Neighbour Lab. The bench will be located on Harbour Road, adjacent to the Galloping Goose trail in the Victoria West Neighbourhood. The project has been made a reality through a collaborative partnership between the Victoria Ready (City of Victoria Emergency Management), Building Resilient Neighbourhood’s, and Neighbour Lab and supported by the Ministry of Transportation and the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.
The teams are inviting people from communities across the Greater Victoria region to check out the Neighbour Hub.
Bike, walk or roll to ‘Get to know your Neighbour Hub’, a weekender event happening in Victoria this May 22 – 24th, to celebrate the instalment of the Harbour Road Neighbour Hub – a community-led social infrastructure project in Victoria West.
The ‘Get to know your Neighbour Hub’ event will follow strict COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. For a list of participating businesses and offers please visit https://www.neighbourlab.com/hub-003-harbour-road.