The Peoples’ Plan for Pandora: Speaking with the street community members who reside and/or spend time on the Pandora 900-block

Throughout 2010, VCAP devoted much of its time to the “Peoples’ Plan for Pandora”. The final version of the “Peoples’ Plan” is here: Peoples Plan for Pandora

The sections below are a partial archive of our work. Although the City and the Police have successfully cleared much of the 900-block, the “Peoples’ Plan” is a reminder that the criminalization and displacement of the urban poor is ongoing in Victoria.

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The Peoples’ Plan for Pandora

The 900-block of Pandora Avenue currently serves as a gathering place for many street-involved residents of Victoria.  It is also one of the most controversial locations within the City.   Located directly across from “Our Place”, the 900-block has been the subject of fierce debate on how to address chronic poverty in Victoria.

Housed residents and business owners in the neighbourhood have been outspoken in demanding that the City and the police clear the area of street-involved people who spend their days and nights on the block and its grassy boulevard.   The City of Victoria responded, in part, by issuing a call for proposals to “beautify” Pandora Green, with the explicit objective of discouraging loitering.  While plans for the “beautification” appear to be on hold, the City proposed an amendment to the streets and traffic bylaws that would ban tenting on the Green.

The people most impacted by any plans involving Pandora Green have been strikingly absent from the decision-making processes.  The street community has not been invited to participate in any formal, comprehensive or inclusive process with the City.  The Peoples’ Plan for Pandora will attempt to fill the void and open space for some of the city’s most marginalized residents to speak about their visions for the spaces that they live on and/or use.

Project Goal

The goal of the Peoples’ Plan for Pandora is to compile and publicize the visions, insight and ideas of the street-involved community on Pandora Green.  Our specific objectives are:

–       To create a space for a fulfilling and empowering experience for the street-involved community;

–       To provide an opportunity for popular education for the housed residents of Victoria;

–       To inform the municipal and provincial decision-making processes that hold implications for the people who use the space on Pandora Green.

The Peoples’ Plan for Pandora is a contribution to an ongoing dialogue that many Victoria-area collectives, such as the Committee to End Homelessness and the Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users (SOLID), have been carrying out for years.  The Peoples’ Plan is not an attempt to produce a singular vision for Pandora Green. Instead, it seeks to communicate some of the reflections from a standpoint that is marginalized in forums such as the media and decision-making processes.

Research Process

Our research process is participatory and community-based.  We began our process by holding two community food servings on Pandora Green where we conducted one-on-one and group semi-structured interviews, using a survey as a conversation guide.  We allowed for a great deal of flexibility in our approach to gathering data.  We held one community mapping session on Pandora Green.  Finally, a focus group was held with 25 individuals.  In total, we spoke with 99 individuals.

Instead of demanding that respondents conform to requirements set out in our survey, we were flexible in ensuring that our discussions conformed to their interests and needs.  We have included numbers and percentages in this report, but not every interview or discussion addressed all the questions listed in our conversation guide.  We were happy to record thoughts or ideas as they arose in our discussions.

The interview results will be presented to the street community at another food serving on Pandora Green.  At the event, people will be invited to reflect, share ideas and make proposals for a Peoples’ Plan.

The results of the Peoples’ Plan are up online now – check it out here: Peoples Plan Survey Results Report

Interested in getting involved? Drop us a line at vcapvictoria@gmail.com