February 21: What if Victoria's Dockside Green Were a Parisien Ecoquartier?

What if Victoria's Dockside Green Were a Parisien Ecoquartier?

Meg Holden, Director of Urban Studies and Professor of Geography, Simon Fraser University

Meg Holden City Talk: Sustainable Cities


Beginning in 2004, Victoria stepped onto the world stage for sustainability and climate action commitments by announcing the vision for the industrial site now known as Dockside Green to be planned and developed as a global model sustainable neighbourhood. Based on the LEED system popularly used in North America, Dockside Green won the highest level of certification for its sustainability performance in 2005, 2008, and 2011, and is poised for full build-out by 2027. Half-way around the world, in Paris, at the same time as Dockside Green was taking shape, a vision and process were launched for what would become another model sustainable neighbourhood, in the French mode. This neighbourhood, Fréquel Fontarabie, shares many starting points and motivations with Dockside Green, and has received numerous French accolades for its outcomes and performance, notably as an early recipient of the national Ecoquartier label. Some of what has transpired in Paris is considered impossible in the Canadian context: an écoquartier consisting entirely of social housing; led, managed, and championed by the state; with a daycare and elementary school as a matter of course. Some of what has transpired may ring a bell for Canadians who have considered the ironies of Dockside Green: a sense of loss of wildness, the meaninglessness of “models” to people’s real lives; the difficulty of social and environmental behavior change. This presentation will contextualize the case of envisioning, designing, and building a model sustainable neighbourhood at Fréquel Fontarabie, present what it does and does not share with Dockside Green, and raise questions about the kind of neighbourhood that Victoria, too, could envision differently in its pursuit of more sustainable neighbourhoods.


Meg Holden is Professor of Urban Studies and Geography at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Meg teaches courses in urban sustainable development, urban ethics, urban planning and policy, and urban theory. She received her Ph.D. in public and urban policy from the New School for Social Research and a M.Sc. and B.Sc. (Hons) in geography. Meg's research and professional work examines how cities and urbanites change in relation to demands, plans, actions, and new concepts related to sustainable development and community wellbeing. Meg is a research associate of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing and the Korean Community Wellbeing Institute. She also serves on the editorial board of Applied Research in Quality of Life and the Springer book series on community wellbeing and quality of life.

Thursday, February 21, 2019, 7:30pm

Legacy Art Gallery ~ 630 Yates Street, Victoria

Free Public Event

This City Talk is co-sponsored by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union through the Jean Monnet EU Centre of Excellence at the University of Victoria.