admin by Corey Newcomb (Town of Sidney) | 24 Sep 2020
Topics:
Green Streets & Public Spaces,Sustainable Transportation

Make Beacon Avenue Canada’s greatest street! (or is it already?)

Beacon Avenue is pretty darn great already, but what could we change to make it even better?

Where it is located...

Discuss this idea...

18 comments
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Kathleen Dow on 1st Mar 2021

I am really enjoying the recreation and shopping that gives Sidney a seaside vacation feeling. I would like to see this expand with more activities, shopping and pedestrian focuses. The wonderful thrift shopping brings many visitors to Sidney year round. I see ppl doing food take outs and eating on the streets so maybe more places to sit and enjoy would be helpful- perhaps some seating with cover for that occasional shower.

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Kathleen Dow on 1st Mar 2021

Some more opportunities to use the ocean- eg commercial boating, recreational accesses, a warm water ocean pool for the public to enjoy and linger by. 

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Theresa Wright on 14th Oct 2020

Close the left hand lane east bound from 5th street & make it walkable for more room down Beacon with more benches & picnic tables. Or just close Beacon from 5th Eastbound to pedestrian only

cnewcomb@sidney.ca

Hi Theresa, Beacon Avenue fills many, many functions in the community. It’s a place to relax and socialize, a place to shop and get other services, and also a source of livelihood for many small business owners. Occasionally it’s also a place of celebration: treat street, parades, Christmas displays, etc. So Beacon needs to be a very versatile street and meet the needs of residents, businesses, visitors, service providers, emergency responders and so on. Many of these users depend on vehicles, while some benefit from fewer vehicles (pedestrians strolling) or no vehicles at all (i.e. small children collecting candy during treat street!)

Personally I think the key is that Beacon needs to be designed to be flexible and also be “everything to everyone” – a tall order for sure! A key question I think we need to answer is this: how can Beacon be designed to fill its many roles in the community, and do it with grace and style in all instances?

mar_gador@yahoo.es
Mar Martínez on 1st Oct 2020

I think that on top of your ideas, no cars will make it way better. Open the street to people.
No Cars Allowed: The 10 Best Pedestrian Streets Around the World https://www.afar.com/slideshows/no-cars-allowed-the-10-best-pedestrian-streets-around-the-world
Streets are for people not cars https://thecorrespondent.com/463/streets-are-for-people-not-cars/61295013857-50a961e7
Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-10/why-car-free-streets-will-soon-be-the-norm

cnewcomb@sidney.ca

Hi Mar, what would you say to business owners along Beacon Avenue who feel that vehicle traffic and on-street parking is vital for them to prosper?  Is there a happy medium that can be reached?  What might that look like?

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Doug Woollard on 18th Feb 2021

I agree that Beacon should be car free. I am not sure which sections. Perhaps from 5th west to the water. There is a great deal of parking on the side streets and Bevan. The parking can be configured to make easy access to business. Many of the businesses already have their own off street parking. I spend a lot of time walking around town  including on Beacon almost daily. When I have to bring my vehicle to pick up something I park on a side street and walk a half block. For people with disabilities who need handicapped parking the first few spots off Beacon on each side street can be designated handicapped. With all the new condo construction in town you will see the addition of hundreds of cars. Now is the time to re-route those cars away from Beacon so it becomes a pedestrian Oasis. If you don’t tourists and condo dwellers will constantly clog the street. We all need to get in the habit of walking if we are able.

cnewcomb@sidney.ca

Responding to Rob’s prompt below, I think Beacon Avenue shines in a few ways:
– It’s easy to visualize almost any place on Beacon. “Meet me at the Post Office building” or pretty much name a business and most people know it – this is a special thing. Beacon is large enough to be interesting but small enough to be intimate.
– A great mix of old and new buildings.
– Some nice trees (see below)
– An amazing view.

Where could it improve?
– Need more trees, in a more regular pattern.
– More places to linger.
– Bring more of nature on to the street.
– Needs a focal point for the community perhaps.

Just some thoughts, please add some more!

mar_gador@yahoo.es
Mar Martínez on 1st Oct 2020

meant to add, that ‘bringing nature’ is great – bringing biodiversity though, not all the same species of non-native trees or other plants. There is a lot that can be done with this idea.

About the old buildings – not many left, and there is a clear clash with the ‘new’ buildings (box-style)

I like the idea of creating of ‘spots’ that bring a respite from the stress of the day, or simply linger and watch people go by.
Opening the street to people will accomplish this; it will also reduce fumes and car noise, and get people walking (a very healthy activity)

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Eric T on 8th Oct 2020

I agree that the box style buildings are not very pretty, however, this is a result of several factors.
1) Federal monetary policy- low interest rates have massively accelerated demand for housing to be seen as an investment and not as a place to live.

2) Provincial transportation policy – favouring auto transportation and simultaneous lack of investment in public transportation- which leads to silly local laws- see below.

3) Local Government investments and bylaws making things expensive -for example, investments in on street parking that undercut local property owners ability to charge for parking.

Whenever local governments put in place policies like off street parking minimum regulations/ setback requirements, this adds direct costs to what property owners/ financiers need in terms of making a return on their investment. Setbacks reduce the amount of land a property owner can build on, reducing their ability to add value to properties, just as parking minimums (like Sidneys bylaw 2140 section sections 4.6 & 4.11) add direct financial impediments to developments. A parking space costs far more to build than what a property owner can receive in ROI, so the costs of building it are bundled into the costs of the units, be they commercial or residential. Onstreet parking supply adds to this problem. If parking was such a great investment, local governments wouldn’t need parking minimum bylaws.

Other reasons stem from a lack of ability for property owners to build incrementally. It must be built all at once to a finished state – (bylaw 2016 section 3.5). This means all of the financing has to be in place to permit this to occur. What we know about places that permit a more incremental approach is that because they are iterative, they respond more to the needs of the direct users and people who interact with the building on a daily basis and therefore we wind up with less boxy buildings.

cnewcomb@sidney.ca

Eric what kind of architecture would you like to see downtown? Can you think of any examples from around the region or further afield?

And what would you say to business owners who believe that on-street parking in front of their store is critical to the success of their business?

mar_gador@yahoo.es
Mar Martínez on 1st Oct 2020

I think that no cars will make it way better. Open the street to people.
This is already successful all over the world

mar_gador@yahoo.es
Mar Martínez on 1st Oct 2020

I think that on top of all you propose no cars will make it way better. Open the street to people
No Cars Allowed: The 10 Best Pedestrian Streets Around the World https://www.afar.com/slideshows/no-cars-allowed-the-10-best-pedestrian-streets-around-the-world
Streets are for people not cars https://thecorrespondent.com/463/streets-are-for-people-not-cars/61295013857-50a961e7
Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-10/why-car-free-streets-will-soon-be-the-norm

mar_gador@yahoo.es
Mar Martínez on 26th Sep 2020

What are your ideas Corey? Not sure why we need to make Beacon the ‘greatest street’ in Canada; I think we can make it the best we can for Sidney.
I think that no cars will make it way better. Open the street to people. Make it alive. Build community.
Proven great in other places:
No Cars Allowed: The 10 Best Pedestrian Streets Around the World https://www.afar.com/slideshows/no-cars-allowed-the-10-best-pedestrian-streets-around-the-world
Streets are for people not cars https://thecorrespondent.com/463/streets-are-for-people-not-cars/61295013857-50a961e7
Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-10/why-car-free-streets-will-soon-be-the-norm

cnewcomb@sidney.ca

Hi Mar, I think Beacon Avenue is a great street already, but a few other ideas for improvement would be:focus on making sure any new buildings lining Beacon Avenue are built for people on foot; properly scaled, quality architecture, and original designs suited to the pedestrian experience.In terms of vehicle/people movement, Beacon Avenue needs to be very flexible. It needs to accommodate everything from window shopping, to truck deliveries, garbage pickup, parades and events, etc while at the same time keeping the experience a pleasant one. Surfaces that are easily adaptable (i.e. no high curbs, but using surfacing materials to delineate space) will allow different parts of the street to be adapted to many different uses.Trees need to be carefully selected and properly placed to create a sense of place and provide continuous shade in the summer and more sun in the winter.Places to stop and linger. Moving beyond just linear sidewalks and building mini plaza spaces, a public square and interesting nooks and crannies to take a break from the ebb and flow. Think Fan Tan Alley in Downtown Victoria… how can we add that kind of interest and mystery to Sidney?What do you think?  Anything good here? 🙂

rob@wayblaze.com
Rob Barrs Wayblaze on 26th Sep 2020

Corey, perhaps you could add a photo of Beacon Avenue? Thanks

rob@wayblaze.com
Rob Barrs Wayblaze on 26th Sep 2020

Corey, what are Beacon Avenue’s assets right now? What are its shortcomings?

mar_gador@yahoo.es
Mar Martínez on 26th Sep 2020

What are your ideas?
I think that no cars will make it way better. Open the street to people.
No Cars Allowed: The 10 Best Pedestrian Streets Around the World https://www.afar.com/slideshows/no-cars-allowed-the-10-best-pedestrian-streets-around-the-world
Streets are for people not cars https://thecorrespondent.com/463/streets-are-for-people-not-cars/61295013857-50a961e7
Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-10/why-car-free-streets-will-soon-be-the-norm