James Bay Neighbourhood Association, Victoria BC (formerly JBNEA) - Rezoning, Development, Environment, Parks & Transportation meetings, issues and proposals
James Bay Neighbourhood Association - Victoria, BC

About James Bay

James Bay History

The geographical area known as James Bay was, in the mid 1800s, more of a peninsula than it is today. The bay of water, now called the inner harbour, was a tidal inlet which extended to today’s Blanshard St. and had a side bay, Major Bay, which covered today’s Fisherman’s Park, with open creeks running into it from the East and Southwest. The land was the home of the Serngwhung tribe, part of the Coast Salish whose descendents are the Songhees Nation.

Sir James Douglas, after whom the bay and later the peninsula were named, was a key figure in the founding of Victoria and the creation of British Columbia. Douglas chose the site for Fort Victoria in 1842, supervised its construction in 1843, and moved to the fort as chief factor of the Hudson Bay Company (HBC). The fertile flat lands of James Bay became farms. In 1850, the Serngwhung ceded their land to the HBC.

By 1859, after the first Legislative Building was built and a wooden piling bridge to span the bay was completed, the elite of Victoria built residential properties in the south and east of James Bay. The west side of James Bay became an industrial and shipping hub with working class cottages being built during the following decades.

Rapid growth of Greater Victoria brought redevelopment to James Bay during the 1950s and 1960s. Much of the historical housing stock was demolished to make way for apartments. By the mid-70s, there was a strong reaction to the rapid changes which threatened historical Victoria.

Thanks to federal funding that was available at the time, the 1970s was a very active time in James Bay. Surveys were done to determine local needs, which were determined to be a seniors’ social and recreation centre, community school centre and health and family services. Additional federal and provincial funding was requested to build the James Bay New Horizons Centre, the James Bay Community Project (operated by the James Bay Health and Community Services Society) and the James Bay Community School. These James Bay “institutions” continue to serve the community today.

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Menzies north of Michigan

Aerial view of Inner Harbour

James Bay Today

James Bay has the clearest physical definition of any neighbourhood in Victoria. Rather than having residential neighbourhoods which share our boundaries, we have government buildings and hotels to the north, water and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) foreshore lands to the north, south and west, and Beacon Hill to the east. This isolation presents unique challenges to our James Bay community.

James Bay is the most populous neighbourhood in Victoria with 15% of the city’s population. We have the largest group of 65+ residents in Victoria. 73% of residents rent their homes.

The 5-corners area is the centre or village of James Bay. The Menzies corridor from Belleville through to the 5-corners is an extension of the heart of James Bay. This corridor links key public facilities to the 5-corners, namely JB New Horizons and JB Community Project. A few blocks to the west of 5-corners on Oswego, is a third public facility, JB Community School & Centre.

These public amenities deliver health and other social services programs. Other public facilities include a second elementary school and substantial publicly subsidized housing.

Residents within James Bay favour walking and cycling within James Bay. However, the community also serves as a major transit corridor for the greater Victoria area for ferries, cruise ships, helicopters, the Canadian Coast Guard, fishing boats, pleasure crafts and tourist vehicles such as horse-drawn carriages and pedicabs.

James Bay serves as an “image” of Victoria which promotes tourism. The old streets of James Bay and the remaining vintage housing stock serve as character components which emphasize the Victorian charm of the city. Fisherman’s Wharf and the Dallas Road walkway add to the ambiance of our delightful city.

James Bay Total Population Per Hectare - click to enlarge.
James Bay Total Population Per Hectare
Click to see map (PDF 129 kb)

James Bay  Daily Employees Per Hectare Map - click to enlarge.
James Bay Daily Employees Per Hectare
Click to see map (PDF 135 kb)

Challenges & Opportunities


We have challenges facing our Neighbourhood. There is limited access to existing facilities due to programming time constraints and/or the programs themselves targeted to select demographic groups, leaving some groups with little programming.

Although the Village or 5-corners serves as a centre of the community, there is no one central building, park or village square gathering place for residents. James Bay needs a hub. And the Village centre would greatly benefit from the establishment of new retail options to fill currently empty storefronts.

Other challenges are our aging infrastructure and our disappearing heritage buildings. Our original housing stock which forms the basis of our community’s ‘character’ is being destroyed.

Noise and air quality problems, related to cruise ship, floatplane, ferry, boat, taxi and bus traffic are serious. Other traffic, namely cars and delivery trucks, horse-carriages and kabukis (pedi-cabs), impose additional challenges.

There are three major groups that influence the neighbourhood and its residents: the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, the three levels of government, and the development community. Most of the waterfront lands are controlled by the GVHA and governments.


Let us dare to dream! Imagine a James Bay Village corridor stretching along Menzies from north of Superior through to Simcoe. The public land along Menzies houses new affordable and supportive public housing, combined with ground level commercial facilities, and a community recreation and cultural centre with space for public gatherings. Included would be expanded Community gardens and a permanent home in the summer months for the James Bay Community Market.

Then, we might realize the vision articulated in the Community Plan workshops:

“A dynamic, human-scale and diverse neighbourhood focused on a vibrant village core, that preserves its heritage, integrates its waterfront, and provides green spaces and accessible public transit."

5-corners James Bay, Victoria, BC

Ogden Point cruise ships, horse and buggies and buses - Victoria, BC

Fisherman's Wharf in James Bay, Victoria, BC

MacDonald Park in James Bay


Photos of James Bay, Victoria BC


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