A map showing the locations of sydney and new south wales.

Defensive architecture on tour (Part 1)

Like bad takes about bike lanes, defensive architecture is a blight spread across Greater Victoria’s 13 municipalities. After spending $1.50 on carbon offsets, Needs More Spikes is displeased (because defensive architecture sucks) to offer this quick tour.

Map of the Greater Victoria area with municipal boundaries. Image source: Newell and Canessa, Heliyon.

Map of the Greater Victoria area with municipal boundaries. Image source: Newell and Canessa, Heliyon.

Central Saanich

First in this alphabetical tour is Central Saanich, whose sheltered benches include fake arm rests so folks know they aren’t actually for shelter. No lying down here.

Central Saanich Bench.jpg


Colwood has its own take on the defensive bench. Fake arm rests ensure that no one who’s looking for a place to sleep off the ground and out of the rain can do so here.

Colwood Bench.jpg

The City of Colwood has also decreed that the washrooms in this park shall remain closed overnight, because at 8:00 pm Colwoodian bladders turn into pumpkins and nobody needs to go until the next day.

Colwood Washrooms.jpg


Esquimalt’s got its fair share of defensive architecture.

At the Archie Browning Sports Centre you can drop in for skating or curling, but drop-in sleeping is not happening. They’ve cemented large rocks under some of the building’s covered areas, effectively preventing anyone from sheltering there.


Esquimalt bus stops also regularly feature arm rests to keep people from lying down.

Esquimalt Bench.jpg

Outside Tim Hortons at Esquimalt and Admirals, the planters are filled with stones that have been cemented in place for at least 10 years, which is a long commitment to displacement.

Esquimalt Tim Hortons.jpg

Some defensive arch-itecture at McDonald’s. No sitting in front of this sign.

Esquimalt Mcdonald's.jpg


Camping isn’t permitted in the 3,162 acre Gowlland Tod provincial park, because there’s nature and stuff I guess? Dogs can sit quietly, though. The sign says so.

Highlands No Camping.jpg


At these Langford shopping plazas, garbage is considered so precious that it’s kept under lock and key, where I assume it only appreciates in value.


Langford also proves that just because benches don’t have arm rests, doesn’t mean they can’t be hostile. No lying down on these Walmart beauties, or on these short benches at another Langford shopping plaza.


In the “intentions don’t matter” file is this short bench outside a public library. Take a look, but don’t lie down on this book.

Langford Library Bench.jpg

Out-of-the-way, sheltered space? What’s that, Langford? “Fill it with stones?”

Langford Stones.jpg

I was surprised to see this next sign outside of Victoria. It looks like it was stolen from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, which started distributing them in 2007 to facilitate police enforcement of trespassing laws. Aggressive signs promoting displacement know no municipal boundaries, apparently. Nearby there were some weathered signs telling off skateboarders, too.



Just like in the Highlands, there’s no camping in Devonian or Matheson Lake parks in Metchosin. “Keep the park natural and enjoyable for everyone!” Unless your enjoyment involves seeking shelter, in which case please leave immediately.

Matheson Lake Park.jpg

A sheltered bench? In Metchosin? Get a fake armrest! Stat!

Metchosin Bench.jpg

I don’t know what the “School Watch Program” is, but it means you can’t access these fields or playground after 6:00 pm because reasons. Google’s never heard of it, either, at least in Metchosin.


North Saanich

And finally, I think we’ve all been here before. You’ve just skateboarded all the way to North Saanich, only to find out they don’t want you grinding on their coveted ledges, railings and benches.


The defensive architecture tour will be back next week!

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