Feltham Village sounds like a great place, but does anyone really call it that?
The restaurants, businesses and services surrounding the intersection of Feltham Road and Shelbourne Street are often overlooked, even by Gordon Head residents.
For one, the area is a five-minute walk north of University Centre, East Saanich’s biggest hub. And yet Feltham has everything a village needs (short of a pub).
There are no hard rules around the concept of placemaking – it’s community specific, based on the happenstance of the geographical layout. What’s key is supporting the destination by ensuring safe, accessible routes for pedestrians and cyclists while also allowing cars access. Establish those things and nearby residents will be enticed. Businesses such as Naughty Nellies’ fish and chips could grow as a social hub, rather than a take-out pit stop during the rush hour home.
Saanich’s official community plan recognizes Feltham as one of just seven villages, though the term is pliable. Among those villages is Cadboro Bay Village, which thrives on the simple but crucial proximity of two crosswalks within 200 metres along Cadboro Bay Road. The entire commercial atmosphere of that village is predicated between two four-way intersections which slow traffic, with wide roads that are more friendly to cyclists.
A crosswalk between Feltham Road and Arbordale Avenue makes a lot of sense. It creates a relationship between those living on the west side of Shelbourne to those on the east side who have safe and easy access to the amenities surrounding the Gordon Head recreation centre, a skate park, lawn bowling, a secondary school and the diamonds, which thrive in the summer as the region’s home to senior men’s baseball.
Some of the more significant challenges along Shelbourne will take years, if not decades to correct. The protruding power poles of the Feltham/Shelbourne intersection deny cyclists a safe staging area while also obscuring pedestrians from the views of right-turning drivers.
Bikes are commonplace, but they’re as unwelcome on the narrow lanes of Shelbourne Street as they are welcome on the designated bike paths of the Gordon Head Local Connector and Lochside Trail. Rezoning of the residential area immediately north of Feltham could invite future village stops, perhaps another restaurant. Add in some incentives for owners to yield a portion of their street-front property to create bike lanes and Shelbourne can become a safer, less car-dependent area.