Local historian and rally co-organizer Vincent Gornall tells the crowd about the history of the land that currently houses the former Blanshard Elementary School. Gornall and community organizer Jenn Neilson hosted a rally at the site on Sunday, asking residents for input on how the space could be used and pushing the City of Victoria to buy the land. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

VIDEO: Hillside-Quadra residents rally for new community space

Group wants to see former Blanshard Elementary converted to community centre

More than 50 people gathered at the former Blanshard Elementary school on Sunday afternoon to rally the City of Victoria for a revitalized community space.

The space is needed, said residents, because the Quadra Village Community Centre – located across the street – is frequently at capacity.

“In 2017 we had close to 77,000 visits,” said Kelly Greenwell, the centre’s executive director. “We’re really, really busy and a lot of the demands, like child care, we just don’t have the space to meet.”

RELATED: Neighbourhood associations want to explore options for Victoria’s former Blanshard Elementary site

Community members are calling for “much-needed green space” and public amenities such as wellness and child care services and potentially even a public library, on the site where the school has sat for five decades (950 Kings Rd.).

Currently, the land is owned by the Capital Regional Hospital District, who built a residential dementia care facility on an adjacent plot.

Organizers say the City can rectify a decision made over 50 years ago that saw more than 30 homes destroyed in order to build Blanshard Elementary School. They hope the City will acquire the site and “create a community hub and neighbourhood backyard” as well as commemorate the community displaced in the 1960s.

Hillside-Quadra resident and co-organizer Vincent Gornall hopes the space will be used to honour the past.

“We have this beautiful school here, it’s been here for 50 years. I would like to see … a building here for the next 50 years that’s going to honour that legacy and is going to give our kids a place to come to.”

RELATED: Victoria group lobbies for land purchase that could benefit Saanich

On Jan. 28 the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood association passed a motion supporting “beneficial neighbourhood amenities” at the Blanshard school site. Now, they want the City of Victoria to get on board.

They have the support of at least two councillors. Sharmarke Dubow and Laurel Collins both attended the rally.

“I want to let you know that I am in support of this project,” Collins told the crowd. “I am in support of transforming this space into something that really serves our community.”

Collins said Dubow and Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt would be bringing a motion to council in regards to purchasing the land.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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Victoria councillor Laurel Collins expressed her support for a new Quadra-Hillside community centre on the lot housing the former Blanshard Elementary School. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

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