Joining Happy City co-hosts Emma Jones and Mitchell Reardon for our next session of Main Street Action Week: Rapid Placemaking for Main Streets – are Ebrahim Varachia, Principal at Bench Placemaking in Detroit; Andrew Nakazawa, Manager of Placemaking and Public Spaces at the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association; Olivier Legault, Co-founder of WinterLab in Montréal; and Elora Wilkinson, Planner at the Halifax Regional Municipality. This event is co-presented with The Happy City.
Main Street Action Week: Rapid Placemaking for Main Streets
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. Winter holiday transformations on main streets
According to Elora Wilkinson, bringing holiday joy and decorating to main streets that are COVID-safe could provide a sensory experience of aesthetic visuals, holiday smells, and music. Beautifying the space with multicultural and inclusive activities and greenery is crucial for an encouraging public realm. Wilkinson urges the importance of intention among a collective input and emphasizes the need to build connections and develop relationships within the public sphere in a time when people are becoming more isolated.
2. Small-scale local projects fostering community
Olivier Legault proposes a prototype idea of sculptural wire light displays that create abstract shapes throughout downtown Quebec. His idea to place these small elements in hidden pockets of spaces strive to create surprise and delight within the city, contributing to an enlightened and interactive landscape that people can play with. When people take ownership for the space through small-scale projects, it creates an atmosphere of community and encourages local businesses. Said Legault, “If you feel good in the space and it is interactive, it will eventually become something to experience on your daily route.”
3. Bringing holidays to the public realm
Ebrahim Varachia poses the idea of vacation on main streets. COVID-19 has significantly imposed travel restrictions; thus, Varachia explores another reason for people to go on to their main streets as well as for businesses to create and encourage new clientele. He suggests partitioning portions of the street throughout the winter to give businesses kiosks to rebrand and expand public spaces. Said Varachia, “City officials need to touch base to accommodate the rapid changing of these streets,” to encourage people to change their mindset about winter by creating a mental state of warmth.
4. A COVID lens of street enhancements
According to Andrew Nakazawa, long-term ideas involving pedestrianized streets and streetscape enhancements offer a win-win situation for businesses and the community as the street becomes a destination. He suggests that COVID-19 has made it abundantly evident how critical a public space is and that getting feedback from citizens who actually use the space is a non-negotiable part in organizing agency, enhancing place identity, and creating inclusive placemaking.
5. “Main Street is only as powerful as its community”
Happy City co-hosts Emma Jones and Mitchell Reardon agree that while community is essential to recovery, it becomes a tough challenge to navigate how to keep people active and the economy moving during the pandemic. Jones and Reardon prompt a discussion around how the upcoming winter makes this discrepancy even more apparent. The Happy City framework partners urban cities and design thinkers together to address and combat societal inequities laid bare, through stages that overlap: inspiration, ideation, implementation, engagement, iteration, and assessment.
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
Lisa Cavicchia [00:00:21] Hi, everyone. I’m Lisa Cavicchia, Program Director for the Canadian Urban Institute. Strap in everyone, because this is going to be a great session. I’m going to in a few minutes hand it over to Happy City. But let me just mention a few things. CUI is leading this Bring Back Main Street project to try to address and find solutions to the critical situation that our community hearts, a.k.a. our main streets, are facing. Last week we launched our Bring Back Main Street Action Report that offers a set of very specific proposals to sustain and bolster them through the pandemic and beyond. And we invite you to review our doc- the document. We’ll provide a link in the chat. So, yeah. Review the document. There are something like 80 actions in it. And we invite you to adopt some of those actions and with your partners and collaborators in your communities. The report and really everything that we’ve been doing around Bring Back Main Street builds on extensive consultation and research conducted by us, by Canadian Urban Institute, and also our partners who are really the best of the best. And make no mistake, we are not doing this alone. When we were thinking about who to bring on the- on the Bring Back Main Street team, we knew we needed urban designers and placemakers. And our first thought was Happy City, mostly because of this. And if you haven’t read this, you definitely should. So we reached out and we were in awe with how brilliant, thoughtful and engaging they were. While the end product of everything that Happy City does leaves you with a very happy feeling, they actually are really focused on process and that process is rooted in equity. So before I pass it over, a note, we are recording this session. And we encourage you to use the- oh sorry, we’re recording the session and we also post the session on our website in a few days. We encourage you to use the chat function, which we- and we post the chat also. When you do use the chat, please toggle over to all panelists and attendees so that we can all benefit from what you’re sharing. We encourage you to, you know, Happy City is going to be- it’s gonna be a very engaging workshop today. But we also want you to tell us where you’re from and link resources and information about the kinds of placemaking that’s happening on your main street so that we can all benefit from that and learn. I also want to say, excuse me, tomorrow, we’re running a session with Fathom Hou- Fathom based stu- Fathom Studios, with who are based in Halifax. And the topic is on planning for Main Street. So we do invite you to join that as well. And same time as today. So that’s it for me. Take it away, Mitchell and Emma.
Emma Jones [00:03:27] Thank you.
Mitchell Reardon [00:03:28] Thank you so much, Lisa. And it’s been a pleasure working with CUI over the past few months. And today, we’re extremely grateful to be joined by Elora Wilkinson, an urban planner for the Halifax Regional Municipality, Olivier Legault, project coordinator at Rues Principales in Montreal, Ebrahim Varachia, who is the President and co-founder of Patronicity, a crowdfunding- clou- crowdfunding platform that empowers local placemaking projects. He’s recently relocated to Oakland from Detroit and also moving up the West Coast, we got Andrew Nakazawa, who is the placemaking and public space manager at the downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. And they’ll be sharing ideas about design and programing about how we can support our main streets and their communities shortly. And this group will be joined by my colleague Emma Clayton Jones and I. We work at Happy City and helped create this tool kit, and Happy City is a Vancouver-based urban planning and design consultancy that uses well-being lands to support happier, healthier and more inclusive cities. Before we go any further, I’m going to pass over to you, Emma.
Emma Jones [00:04:33] So we just want to do a land acknowledgment before we get started. So I’ve been seeing that people are calling in, Zooming in from all over, and that’s really exciting. Where I’m speaking from today is the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis people from across Turtle Island. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13, signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty, signed with multiple Annishnabec nations. Mitchell is joining us from Vancouver, where he is on the traditional and unceded territory of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tseil-Waututh people. We are mindful of a history of broken treaties and of the urgent need to work continuously toward reconciliation. We are really grateful to have the opportunity to live and work on this territory and as city builders, we commit to taking care of the land and the creatures that we share it with. So since COVID-19 has hit, people have found really, really creative ways to use the main streets around them. We’ve seen Canadians use streets that typically would prioritize cars to access essential jobs and services by foot and bike, to meet friends and neighbors on new patio spaces, and to use art to share messages of hope and gratitude. We have, of course, also seen people take up Main Street street space to grieve and to protest the racist treatment of Black and Indigenous peoples within communities and by police. As reopenings are occurring, businesses in cities are expanding patios in public spaces into main streets across the country. And at the same time, many main streets are struggling to keep businesses open. And this is of particular concern to many of us as we’re moving into the winter season. So we move through this project process with one really central thesis, which is that a main street is only as powerful as its community. Research indicates that during lockdown, the most resilient Canadian main streets where those with strong community connections. During the same period, we also really saw societal inequalities be laid bare as vulnerable and marginalized communities really face the greatest impacts of COVID-19. While we know that community is essential to Main Street recovery, we also know that cities, BIAs and other groups have been faced with a really tough challenge of responding quickly to the COVID-19 crisis in order to keep people active and the economy moving. And we saw how rapid interventions early in the pandemic could benefit some, while really leaving others behind. It was clear that we would face a similar challenge in creating this tool kit. So to address this, we established a clear process to guide our approach. We spoke with cities about the challenges and concerns they had, as well as ideas to address them. We did a focus group with BIAs from across the country. We conducted a design studio with diverse city makers, designers and community builders from across the country and outside it. We did a lot of research from our desks. We conducted onsite assessment of several public spaces in Vancouver, where we had previously been doing public life studies. We visited open streets initiatives in Vancouver and Toronto, close to our homes, and also where really compelling ideas were emerging. And we connected with people working on these issues through CUI, through our client networks, and through people that we already knew.
Mitchell Reardon [00:08:13] And through- through this work and these efforts, we’re seeing many approaches to make more space for people. Whatever is undertaken, it’s really important that to support a just pandemic recovery, new interventions don’t impede existing sidewalks or create new mobility barriers. And so, you know, some of the approaches that have been emerging frequently include the ones that we’re seeing here. They involve transforming space typically dedicated to cars into space for people. And so that can be extended sidewalks, a chicane to slow traffic down and make more space to people, open the street completely, side street plazas and more. And regardless of the approach taken, it’s important to be mindful the fact that your solutions should support access for all. And this includes maintaining parking spaces for people with disabilities even when we allocate regular parking spaces. So a coordinated approach can be challenging anytime an array of people and groups are working together. In short timelines, emerging ideas and changing situations can further complicate this coordination. That has been the case, I think, for many of us through COVID-19. To help guide the work that we were doing, we created these well-being principles designed as a framework to inform our processes, programing interventions to bring back main streets, big and small, urban, suburban and rural, from coast to coast. And we use them to, as the basis to formulate the ideas in the handbook. These principles are based on the Happy City framework. And this iteration has been informed by an array of urban thinkers and doers. And we’ve credited some of the key people here, as we did with ideas throughout the tool kit. As Emma emphasized, main street is only as strong as its community. But how do you involve community and assess how things are going, when- when everything needs to happen so quickly, as it seemed to be the case this summer. We created this process to help guide our work and there are six stages here. I think the critical piece is to note the overlap within them. So engagement can be initiated back with ideation, but run through implementation all the way to iteration. We see where assessment can start early and helps to inform what iteration might look like. The really key thing to underline here is how different solutions can be used in different contexts. But that this process is an important one to ensure that the key questions are being asked that certain communities are not being excluded or forgotten in the haste to get things on the ground really quickly. And we understand that there’s different contexts and different places. And so we’ve tried to make this broad enough that it is relevant for almost everybody who might be on this call. And at the same time, allow for the space to try things that can be seen really challenging. And this is becoming really important as we’ve had the summer to test out a number of ideas. But now the days are getting shorter, the air is getting colder and comfortable outdoor spaces appear to be an important part for maintaining social contact and supporting local business while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. I think some of our panelists have given this a lot of thought. Throughout this session, we’re going to be conducting activities that you’ll be able to follow along with if you go to the link for Bring Back Main Street Rapid placemaking which has been included in the chat. You can download the activity kit that the panelists have used to guide this work and either do it at real time or follow up. And we’d love to hear some of your ideas, but I think that’s enough from Happy City. So let’s hear from our panelists.
Emma Jones [00:11:55] That’s great. Great. So, like Mitchell mentioned, so each participant here has brought a public realm idea that can support business and strengthen community while being aligned with public health directives that are really important right now. So we are going to have each person share a brief introduction to themselves and just a really quick summary of the idea that they’ve brought today. But before doing that, I’ll just say we don’t have a ton of time left, about 45 minutes. So to ensure that we’re able to hear from everyone, we’re wondering whether everyone will grant us the generous authority to keep moving, keep things moving forward when we need to, to make sure that we can hear everyone’s great ideas.
Elora Wilkinson [00:12:35] Yeah.
Emma Jones [00:12:39] OK, great. So to get things started, we will hear from Elora.
Elora Wilkinson [00:12:47] Awesome. OK, so my name’s Elora Wilkinson. I work in Halifax for the Halifax Regional Municipality and I work on the street scaping team within the Strategic Transportation Planning Team, focusing a lot on streetscaping projects, as well as building a tactical urbanism program. And for my idea for this webinar was focused on holiday decorating along Main Streets. So when I started thinking about winter ideas to bring people back to Main Streets, I was thinking of one event that may not be happening in many places this year, which is a holiday parade. And so what I wanted to do was bring some of that holiday joy to the main streets in a way that would be COVID-safe. In Halifax, Christmas trees, evergreen trees are part of our local produc- products. So really easy for us to get and also supporting local. So I thought something like a Christmas tree decorating event activity would be a really nice addition to our main streets. These trees could be located in plazas along streets focused on one street. And what I think would be a nice addition is to have residents, businesses decorate these trees. I’ve seen different events where these trees sometimes are decorated by groups and auctioned off. So I think that could be a really good idea to build off of. I think the trees, in addition to kind of bring- being delightful to the eyes with the lights and the decorations, also bring a really nice smell to the area, which is another sense that, that helps create a really nice atmosphere on the street, which gives Main Streets a advantage over big box stores, office shopping online, and really will, I think, attract people to come down and spend time. And it was- So we’ll note that I think it’s really important to add seating when you’re doing something like this so that it becomes a space for everyone and that there’s spaces for people to spend time to rest. And that doesn’t necessarily mean going into business always and creates a space for everyone.
Mitchell Reardon [00:14:56] Thanks, Elora. This is- this is great and an excellent start. This looks like an idea that could be implemented for the holiday season, but last through the winter. Looking forward to hearing more. Now we’ll go over to Olivier.
Olivier Legault [00:15:07] Hi. Yeah, I can already smell the pine trees, the spurs. Is that the right word? Yeah. So I’m Olivier from Rues Principales. We are an organization that works with downtowns and village cores all around Quebec and in New Brunswick. So the idea, I’m also co-founder of Lab de l’Hiver, so the Winter Lab. So we have a very good focus on the what- what happens in during the winter. And this idea that I want to share is a some kind of prototype we did last year, which is a sculpture of lead wires that can that can be appropriated by it, by anybody passing by. Anybody can sculpt the light basically in the street. So that creates those, those- those- those- those shapes. It’s just hard enough so you don’t make, like, you know, teenagers doing things you don’t want to see in the public realm. So it keeps in the abstract shape things. So it’s great for that. And yeah, well, the basic idea is just it’s a really small element that you can put in between two buildings, a little hidden spots and create a surprise in the downtown area. So it’s very simple to build, but it does this- the effect of having a lot of sculptures is really important, though, so it can be cost effective. But if you want to have a lot and create like a light- an enlightened landscape, then it’s a bit more complicated. But it’s just basically a public toy that you can play with in the streets. It brings a bit of a happy in the downtown and- and creates a place to go, which is the you know, if you feel good in the space and you, it’s in- interactive, then a- it’s a- it’s some place you will find on your daily route and that’s the basic idea.
Emma Jones [00:17:13] Great, thank you, Olivier. And yeah, I loved the abstract design of them, it’s awesome to see. Next, we will go over to Ebrahim.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:17:24] Hello, I’m Ebrahim. I’m based out of California. And so thank you guys for having me here. I’m the co-founder of Patronicity, we’re a local community-based crowdfunding platform. And this year we actually launched Bench Consulting, a placemaking driven consulting agency, con-visory firm. So the idea that not myself, but our whole team kind of brought together was this idea of Vacation on Main Street. And so with COVID travel restrictions, less- people are going out and traveling less, especially during a high travel time. So we thought, what about giving people another reason to go visit their main street, as well as giving the businesses a creative opportunity to create something unique to attract more customers? And so our idea provides a small display cart for all the local businesses that want to participate and they can kind of design it. There’s a little bit of decorations that that can be involved, having some warming stations as well. So this idea would be to close off the street and- or at least partition off some portions of the street. And then having enough space for, you know, throughout the winter.
Mitchell Reardon [00:18:44] Thank you, Ebrahim. Yeah. I mean, you know, we’re- our concept of distance has changed significantly during COVID and so having a destination vacation just a few blocks over is something that has a lot of appeal for a lot of people and something that- it’s pretty critical to having a sense of joy, I think, in these current times. And with that, I’d like to come down to Andrew Nakazawa off on the downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.
Andrew Nakazawa [00:19:12] Hi, everybody. Thanks very much. My name is Andrew Nakazawa and I manage the Placemaking and Public Spaces department with the downtown Vancouver BIA. So we’re a 90 block BIA in the heart of downtown Vancouver. And everything that falls on my plate is improvements to the public realm to enhance our district. So anything from beautification to plaza activations to laneway transformations. And the intervention that I’m going to speak to here is a little less rapid and a little more long term. And it deals with two blocks on either side of a pedestrianized street, which is currently under construction. On the lower mount, you can see the yellow highlighted block that will be fully pedestrianized. And this conversation actually had started pre-COVID with the city to explore how to enhance these blocks on either side that are highlighted in purple that the city took from four lanes down to two lanes. And basically there’s prime opportunity to enhance the streetscape environment. So I left a little high level here in terms of now adding the COVID lens of how to build off of these streets that could use enhancements as well as the activity that happens in the middle there with the pedestrian- pedestrianized plaza, which gets a lot of activity. And it’s really in the nexus in the hub of downtown Vancouver between retail, shopping streets and entertainment districts. So it’s a prime opportunity to sort of build off that, but then apply a COVID lens to it.
Mitchell Reardon [00:20:42] Thanks so much, Andrew. And as we look down at this picture, we can see that there’s already temporary ballers up. So this is a gradual process, but there’s significant opportunity to create a space that works for a few more people and a few less cars. Through this work, we’ve really tried to focus on core audiences that may not always be included, may not always be considered together. You know, people are at the center of what we’re doing in placemaking broadly. But we don’t necessarily make those connections. So in our next activity, before we get to a broader panel, we wanted to ask each panelists with their idea. Who is it for? How is it supporting the business as well as communities around Main Streets? And what is the overlap between those? So we’ll come back to you for that first, Elora.
Elora Wilkinson [00:21:33] Sure. So my idea about the, the- the holiday trees and the decorating really doesn’t target a specific group. It’s not for a specific demographic and age and really is about creating a space for everyone. However, I think it is important, as I mentioned, with the bistro seating or some sort of seating, that we still need to be attentive in making sure that we don’t unintentionally create a place that isn’t- doesn’t feel welcoming for everyone. So making sure that we put some special consideration into that. However, I think for- just to go through some of the points I had. So for businesses, I think this idea can attract new clientele who would come down to the area to see kind of what this spectacle of holiday decorating is and spend a little bit of time exploring the area and exploring the businesses. And the extra seating allows people to enjoy hot drinks on the street and take a little breather so that they have time as they kind of wander between the area, which encourages people to spend more time there as well. I think there’s also the opportunity with the holiday decorating itself, whether it’s decorating a tree or a sculpture or something of that sort. But that could be the opportunity for businesses to sponsor a tree, which would create additional opportunities for marketing and advertising. As well, as I mentioned, the trees are local products. So that also supports our local businesses in Nova Scotia. For the community, I think adding greenery to the street is an important thing year round. So the trees would do that, creating a more inclusive public realm. The extra seating creates space for people, as I mentioned, for everyone, just to kind of take that opportunity to reset and rest. The location of the trees can encourage people to walk to experience them, which encourages people to just spend time outside walking, which I think is really important right now as we spend a little bit more time in our houses and in kind of on our own. As well I think emphasizing kind of a both multicultural as well as local kind of emphasis on those decorations can really foster an environment of inclusion and learning. And then kind of that crossover between the both groups I think in general, it brings people to the street, which is good for everyone, especially as we are a little bit more isolated than normal, but does so in a way that is safe and respectful of COVID criteria. It creates a place that’s beautiful for people to spend time in, and that is an exclusive to anyone. And the seating as I said, can be used by everyone. It creates a focal point for the street. And the connection between the community groups, the residents, businesses that decorate and view these trees, can be something that really is elevated through this as well. And the local trees, as I mentioned, can be a base for celebrating more holidays than just Christmas. I know, you know, these trees are often seen as a Christmas decoration, but I think there’s a way to really make them inclusive and culturally interesting and diverse.
Mitchell Reardon [00:24:25] Thank you, Elora. And I’m also thinking like I love the idea of trees, and that has a certain setting. I wonder if for different holidays, you know, different things that have meaning for different communities could be planted in various locations. One question for you. A lot of sidewalks aren’t super wide. How do you imagine adding the trees and seating without impeding that, that slows people?
Elora Wilkinson [00:24:48] Yes, I think it depends on the location. Thinking of some streets in Halifax, then maybe the opportunity to kind of continue that widening of sidewalks through taking some of the parking space and using that. Obviously, the design would have to be considered of snow clearing, which would be a big factor in anything that’s design right now. But there’s also opportunities in plazas or park spaces that might be off, necessarily right off the street. But still within that area, that might draw people kind of to that larger downtown area. That might be a little bit easier in areas that are tight, especially with winter coming.
Mitchell Reardon [00:25:24] Wonderful. Thank you. Looking forward to discussing further. But now we’re going to come down to Olivier.
Olivier Legault [00:25:30] So, yeah, just before getting into these circles, I’d like to tell that it’s Manon Otto from Mandaworks, who’s got the first idea about this. So you should check out Mandaworks, they are doing great urban design jobs. And we’ve made sure that it was you know, we did the first prototype together. So- so basically, we come back with the feel of light- idea that a sculpture of light, you know, it’s for the communities really, too, to- to be able to- to- to play outside, to- to and for businesses, it’s basically something to make the area attractive. And so what we want to do this winter, is really to put the main street of any village or neighborhood or city on the main track of people’s daily lives, basically. So. So we think it’s with this kind of fun ideas and interactive ideas that we will be able to do it. So the idea for- for- for colder places is great because it keeps you moving, keeps you in movement. It’s not something where you have to sit, which is a barrier to use a public space when it gets too cold. So it’s just something that you can put somewhere that will not be in the way of the snow removal truck. So for the- for the community, it just, it just fits, I think. It’s just a really small idea that is easily implemented for this winter. Looking at the- we’re at October 15th. So it’s something that can be easily implemented. And for the business as well. If we do these, these kind of nice network of winter-friendly public spaces from the park to- to the- to the main street and to the residential areas. Well, we’ll gonna- we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do the best we can to- to create this atmosphere of community. And, and you know that- that makes you encourage your- your- your local businesses.
Emma Jones [00:27:44] Thank you, Olivier. And yeah it’s exciting. I think so many of us are feeling the loss of opportunities to play or to encounter art. So it’s exciting to think we could have that, you know, going to get groceries or to do the things that we need to do.
Olivier Legault [00:27:57] We would still have to monitor, like, who is using it. Like, are we just, you know, having creative work that people are strong enough for and do we reach like a wider range of communities.
Emma Jones [00:28:10] Yeah, that’s a really good point. I also wanted to ask you around, and of course, we’re- a lot of us are coming up against the things that we need to consider to make sure that we’re maintaining COVID safety precautions. So when you are having an art installation that people might be touching, like what are some of the considerations or how might we be able to do that?
Olivier Legault [00:28:33] It’s really about, you know, having the- by the side of it, what would be the name, please help me out- disinfector. So, you know, I think you can- you can provide a disinfector beside of it and make people responsible to use it.
Emma Jones [00:28:59] Mhm, for sure, thank you. So next, we will go to Ebrahim.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:29:05] So one of our biggest challenges that we wanted to overcome, especially in the United States, is people’s mindset towards winter, a time when they usually typically hibernate. And so we want to give people a reason to go out to explore their communities and their main streets. And so our idea wanted to, is one, for businesses to be creative and what they can do to display what they have. Both for retail as well as even restaurants can have an outdoor a little takeaway cart. So as to expand on that retail and in-store space. The other idea, and then for communities, it’s rethinking what their community can be and having a greater sense of pride and enhancing walkability within that community, as well as rebranding a community. And so back in Michigan, where we have more of a winter climate. I think back of- I think back to the communities that we go to visit in winter. They are the ones that have something for people to engage in. And I think we’re at a unique opportunity now, where many communities can take on that opportunity that- that- the challenge that we have with COVID, and create sustainable long term projects. But tested out this yea because we know we need to bring people back out to Main Streets during winter. Winters are typically a lower economic season for restaurants and businesses. And so just thinking of another way to encourage people to get out there. So I think if we help people overcome the mindset that winter is supposed to be spent indoors. People are smart. When we go to sporting events or when we go on a ski trip, we’re bundled up and ready to be out there for hours. And so we need to take that same idea and bring it to when we just want to go out on a night to Main Street and explore our local downtown, their businesses and even restaurants. And so I think that’s kind of our biggest challenge. Some of the other things that people have mentioned, Elora had talked about colors and lights. And I think that those elements of design and decor and lighting create just a mental state of warmth. And so lighting, color, design, decorations, all of those elements that can be very much themed towards winter, whether it’s Christmas or whether it’s just winter activities, can help brighten up both the mood, but also just your feeling of warmth during those cold months.
Mitchell Reardon [00:31:49] Thank you, Ebrahim. Absolutely. There’s this- there’s- there’s a Swedish expression, “No bad weather, only bad clothing.” And that’s one that maybe in North America we could adopt a little bit further. This seems to be a good example of how we can all try to do a little bit more with a little bit less. Have you been seeing that in the type of work that you’ve been doing over the last few months? And, you know, rather than, say, traveling across the country or even to another continent for a vacation, we have to manage our expectations and do something a little bit more local.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:32:25] Yeah, I think I mean, just with the emergence of many restaurants that have never even thought about parklets, doing small little things or just moving their indoor furniture outdoors. It’s an easy example of doing a lot with less, or being creative in this time. And I think that it comes from both sides, right. From the business side, but also from the community side and recognizing what we have and what are the restrictions that we have around us during a global pandemic. But for future years, when there isn’t a global pandemic that our communities can host and be really creative, whether it’s weekend events or biweekly events or season-long setups in some maybe small off-used spaces, well, what we can do to provide a better space for people, for the community and to do things with less.
Mitchell Reardon [00:33:28] Yeah, that’s a great point. You know, this is a chance, like we need to do these things for the survival of our businesses and to help support social connection in the community. But, you know, in doing so, we can help make better communities long term as well.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:33:39] Yeah. This is a perfect testing ground year. So let’s test it this year. Implement long term implementations next year.
Mitchell Reardon [00:33:47] All right. Thank you. And over to you, Andrew.
Andrew Nakazawa [00:33:51] So with my improving the two blocks on either side of the pedestrianized street in downtown Vancouver, it really is a win-win for both businesses and communities to do any sort of enhancement to the street. I mentioned a little bit, it’s really the street- it’s a large pedestrian volume problem across it, connecting the retail district to the entertainment on both sides. So really enhancing the street is- is only an improvement down. It’s got the bare bones. It’s got good, good bones, I should say, in terms of- the sidewalks are fairly wide. We’ve got great street trees already. But like I said, there’s the- the city took it down from four lanes to two. So there’s opportunities to enhance it, whether it’s with seating. Is there opportunities to do rain cover here to allow people to socialize again safely with COVID? Is there are ways to incorporate visual art, visual interest, whether that’s light art, art installations, those kind of pieces? Or is it a combination of both? Are we able to combine art with seating to allow people to linger on the streets a little bit more as they’re going from shopping or from work or home, that kind of thing in the area? So it’s a benefit to businesses to keep people on the streets creating those sticky streets. And it’s also a good thing for the community in terms of creating another destination or an area where people can come downtown or come in the neighborhood to enjoy the street and not just pass by and they can do something fun on the street. So it’s- for me and my- my view, it’s a- it’s a win for both sides in terms of creating a more inviting and engaging street, adding more life to the street. Again, something visual, but just something as simple as seating is always needed. And that’s something that’s lacking, especially in this- in this area and on these two blocks. Something else is just creating that- enhance the sense of place and identity as well. Like I said, it’s on either side and it’s a pedestrianized street that’s to be completed in the next month or so by the city. And not to compete with that because it’s a fairly well used pedestrianized area even before it was made permanent, so sort of building off of that success and the amount of eyes and the captive audience that’s on the street is something that we’re hoping to work with the city on, too. And that’s it.
Emma Jones [00:36:09] Great. Thank you, Andrew. Yeah. It’s exciting that something like this could happen now and and potentially be a, quite a long term project. I’d love to learn more about how when we’re doing these types of initiatives, we can make sure that they are truly public, are truly inclusive in the sense of allowing homeless people or other folks who might sometimes be excluded from public space to really be a part of these types of projects.
Mitchell Reardon [00:36:41] All right. That’s something I think we can delve into in our next section, so our panelists have all taken the time to think through these ideas a little bit further and go into more depth about what they might include. And for this next section, for the remainder of the session, we’re going to go more into panel mode and draw some of the key themes from this out and make those connections. So thank you for all of this. And I’m going to stop sharing my screen so that we can look at each other for the next half hour.
Emma Jones [00:37:11] So one of the themes that we wanted to touch on was the value of public space, and each of your ideas really highlights the value of the public space in the ways that we can enhance the public realm. So I’d love to know whether you feel that the pandemic has created a heightened sense of appreciation for public space and what that looks like in your various cities. So feel free to just jump in.
Elora Wilkinson [00:37:36] Sure, I’ll jump in first. I think the general public, I think professionals, I think everyone’s really paid a lot more attention to public space than they have before. I know, you know, this group, Peter, we spend a lot of our time every day thinking about public space and how to make it better. But that’s not something necessarily that everyone does. But I think for the first time, a lot of people were realizing how many different things we need our public space to do and how many different uses we ask of it on a regular basis. You know, this year, with the patio’s spilling out onto sidewalks and streets, um- on needing more space generally for just walking on sidewalks and making sure that we could distance, the heavier reliance on curbside pickup to continue to support businesses when they weren’t necessarily open for indoor seating. Our gyms were closed, some- we had our playgrounds closed for a while here, so that public space became an opportunity to get out of the house and stretch your legs and stop sitting for a bit. So I think we really all kind of double down and really started to think about how much we ask our public space to do and how crucial it is. So it- it really opened that conversation up from just locals and professionals to kind of the general public, which I think was really important and helps everyone’s understanding as we continue to move forward and talk about these ideas into the future.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:39:00] Yeah, to echo on that, I think, in the first few weeks to the pandemic, when things locked down, people were missing and actually realized how much they value public spaces. It’s one of those things where you don’t realize the value until it’s taken away. And even amongst, you know, friend groups that are not necessarily focused or are thinking about that, they’re like, why can’t we go to the beach or the park or these spaces that we can hang out together? And I think that is one element. And on the flip side, the recognition of cities and businesses to expand on their public space and what they can do to help accommodate, one for COVID restrictions, but also to creating patio seating or creating streeteries. I think that has all changed people’s value as well as interest and understanding of public space.
Andrew Nakazawa [00:39:57] I think I’ll jump in here as well. I think, yeah, we all saw how critically important public space was during the pandemic and also something we realized in the work that we did in the downtown district here is just making quick decisions and being able to be nimble and try new things and not worry that you don’t have all the answers right away. I think everybody who is working in this realm realized that during the pandemic, is that things are changing so quickly, about month by month- excuse me. And you just have to make quick decisions and try things out and see what worked and monitor and adjust as needed. So that was really also important when dealing with public spaces.
Olivier Legault [00:40:32] The- the point I’d like to- to make, is that I think everything was basically said, but it was more in to the neighborhoods in Montreal, which was really greatly affected by COVID, the number of cases- in terms of number of cases. So I said at the heart of the confinement, my people really got to- to- to beautify their streets to- to take care of it, to clean it, to plant flowers and- and not just, you know, for this year. But people really like to literally take out asphalt from the- from the piece of sidewalk that you can take back and and put the green in it. So there was so many beautiful back streets and what it created was really like your circles of friends were basically your immediate neighbors that were getting together in order to- to- to have this back street more cause you’re in more green and beautiful. So those shared spaces that are in your immediate like area, like what you consider your home, to be your home territory, right across your like, which is basically needed, spaces you share with your neighbors. There was really great improvement and I hope it’s going to- it’s going to stay there in the next years.
Mitchell Reardon [00:41:51] What you’re describing Olivier, you know, it sounds like one of the more advanced versions of people taking ownership of their space. But I think we’ve seen this to various degrees throughout the country and elsewhere. I’m intrigued of your ideas, having people taking ownership of this idea by decorating trees, by being able to resculpt the LED lights and by coming to Main Street and using it as your vacation space. Agency seems to be one sort of key thing where people actually could influence that. Is this something that has been strengthened through the pandemic or or was it already underlying, we’re just having more space for it right now?
Olivier Legault [00:42:32] It definitely got things faster. I don’t know, that like Montreal Avenue, they were- there are some crazy people who would say, oh, we could pedestri- pedestrianize the street. And you know th- they were, they were not daring to talk out loud about this idea because they were like, well, that people are too used to- to drive there. And they did it this summer. And there was a great argument about it. But after three weeks, there was- nobody was against the idea. And this- this street specifically makes so much sense to be pedestrianized because it’s so well-connected in to the neighborhood and with public transport that we could really have a pedestrian street on Montreal, maybe just on summertimes for the years to come and maybe a fourth season pedestrian street for more than 10 years. So it’s something that we did not allow ourselves to think about or we- that was kind of a dream.
Mitchell Reardon [00:43:41] Big things coming in Montreal, are others noticing a similar sense that there is more space for people to take ownership of the public realm and streets in particular since COVID?
Elora Wilkinson [00:43:50] I think COVID changed the dynamic of relationships between business improvement districts, between the general public and between the city. I think, you know, in planning, we unfortunately often see a lot of camps between, you know, this I’m on the side and this is what I think you should do. And, you know, a group of people on the complete opposite side saying, you know, this is what you should do. And I think one of the, I’ll say benefit very loosely of COVID was that absolutely no one knew what we should be doing. There wasn’t a precedence for this. So that kind of created a clean slate where you kind of broke down some of these camps and you had to build relationships and you had to build trust. So for the first time, you know, cities had to go out quickly without doing all the engagement that they wanted to do. So that created kind of more of a conversation about, you know, we’re going to do something, but we’re gonna keep trying it. So that was something that, you know, both the nature of responding, but also the materials that were being used that kind of changed that conversation, too, from a lot of engagement at the beginning and then doing something permanent to kind of that evolving conversation, which I think naturally encourages people to take a little bit more ownership and really think about what they’re doing, think about how they’re using spaces. People work home more, using their environments differently at different times of the day and in different ways. So I think that heightened that conversation, which felt ownership up on both sides.
Mitchell Reardon [00:45:14] And I want to just sort of continue recognizing that- maybe we can come to Andrew and Ebrahim to follow up here. But is this sense of ownership widespread or are you seeing folks who would typically feel that sense of ownership, so like thinking tactical urbanism like streetwide avenues, myself is pretty high, like people to do this kind of stuff. Are others getting this or are we widening this divide, and if so, how should we be addressing?
Ebrahim Varachia [00:45:44] Sure Mitchell, do you mean who’s engaged in making these decisions? Is that-
Mitchell Reardon [00:45:48] Yeah. And who feels agency to actually do this kind of stuff? And how we ensure that that is something that isn’t just a narrow group that gets to do so.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:45:56] Yeah, and I think that’s part of the learning through this as well. And like I was saying is like decisions are being made quickly and pretty promptly. And a lot of times it’s been focused around supporting business and economic development and those pieces. But we do need to make sure that we’re ensuring that everybody has a voice in this and that there’s other improvements to city life that isn’t just based around restaurants and those kind of pieces which are important. But, yes, it’s doing a proper engagement and making sure that every- things are open for everybody.
Elora Wilkinson [00:46:26] Yeah, I think it’s also building on the- sorry, I’ll let you jump in in one second and say the relationships with those who work in the social services and the groups that have those relationships and making sure that you’re being intentional in who you’re talking to and who you’re engaging. So not necessarily just setting up the engagement process, but making sure that you’re really intentional in the groups you bring in and do that work to come- kind of collective input as well.
Mitchell Reardon [00:46:51] Excellent, critical point, Elora. Over to you, Ebrahim.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:46:54] As my colleague always says, has been saying there’s no playbook for this pandemic. And so things are moving really fast. And I think that one leaves the opportunity for the city and town officials to touch i- and touch base with people who are active and making change really quickly, where in the Bay they had over 100 miles of streets closed and they became just pedestrian streets. That is something that you would never have dreamed about without a pandemic. And so I think that’s a positive sign. I think the other end of it, though, there’s still- there’s a lot more movement. And because it’s quicker tha- there isn’t as much bureaucracy. I think that ties up some of these things. So it does give a level of ownership to more people. But I’m not sure if there’s a complete level ownership that every resident or person down the street can say or make or do something or- But we have seen some unique ideas recently. Some of my friends in Australia ran the Porch Placemaking initiative. Right. And so people taking advantage of their own private space to kind of create a communal environment when we need to stay distant and we need to- but we still want to have those experiences and interactions with other people. So I think there is a unique balance that we’re opening up to, but.
Mitchell Reardon [00:48:19] Right. And just before anybody else adds anything, you know, we’re seeing some great comments in the chat around how we actually create space for everyone. So thank you for starting to address that. Being intentional, making sure that it’s easy and accessible. This is key. Also, a lot of interest in the winter cities talk. So please keep that up. We’re reading your comments where we can while still focusing on our folks here in the Zoom as well.
Emma Jones [00:48:44] Right. So I want to ask as well, of course, like one piece of trying to make initiatives move quickly is that engagement can be shortened or different. But also assessing outcomes like how- how are you making time and space to actually assess the outcomes of these projects that are rolling out or how can we do that? Maybe I’ll start with Andrew.
Andrew Nakazawa [00:49:06] Yeah, I think it really takes a few different methods, I know for the- some of the initiatives that we’ve done through the pandemic, we’ve worked at the city as well to gather feedback for groups that are using them. The initiatives are taking part in it or engaging on the street in the public spaces. So whether that’s online, whether that’s in person, sort of intercept surveys, getting people’s feedback on how they’re feeling in this phase, how is it changed? What’s missing? What do they like? Really using that information to inform again how do we adapt over the winter into next year? And how does that change? And what does that mean for public spaces and streets in the future? So really trying to get a broad spectrum again. Not everybody is using their phone or online. So sometimes speaking to people in person, it’s- works that way as well.
Elora Wilkinson [00:49:56] Great. And.
Olivier Legault [00:49:58] In Montreal, when you have a public conversation about how to change our city, it’s a- it can be really tense right. When you want to pull out space from cars and put it in to do like, that’s just a very- a pattern we see all the time. But that- the strategy of the city here, we’ve been very like a ecological elected officials here. And so they really went for it. Like pedestrianized streets and put bike lanes everywhere. And they just did it, without having too much conversation. And I think it got a lot of people, a lot of people really angry. And so that’s kind of started the conversation on a bizarre way. But at the same time, if you start a conversation, would you like to have a psychopath in your street? Well, you- that- would that be a conversation. So that they just tried and people reacted. And when it reacted too hard to take it out- they took it out. So that was the way of dealing with the, having the conversation. And on the other side of it, they had a lot of surveys and a lot of those projects that they did had really good reaction. And it was like two thirds of the population that did really agree with those. So, again, who- who answered those surveys? But so that- that gives them political will to, OK, in those areas, we have a population that is ready for this and maybe we push them a little hard. But we- we see that that is something that they’re ready for. And sometimes it’s the neighborhoods that you did not expect. But most of the time, you could- you could call those groups nonse-
Elora Wilkinson [00:51:56] Yeah, I think just to kind of build on that, I think that idea of, you know, these pilot projects that we’ve been relying so heavily on through the summer and into the fall becomes a really important form of engagement and changes that conversation, kind of like I said before, where we did a lot of engagement beforehand, before doing anything. And then you have to make the decision about what you’re going to do because it’s going in permanently. Whereas now there is an understanding that the conversation is ongoing and evolving and allows people to try to experience something without it necessarily being permanent. I think there is trust on both sides that need to be built with that, where, you know, the organizations that are doing these installations also need to listen and respond and actually make adjustments based on the feedback they hear as well. But I think that’s been a tool that’s been helpful to at least have more people experience something new. You know, many groups have- a lot of the engagement is online, I know for the municipality here in Halifax, if we can do it virtually, then we’re going to do it virtually, it’s kind of the direction we’re headed at least for now. I mean, it’s been an opportunity where we improved a lot of our abilities to host engagements online and into that work. So that’s been a benefit. But I think you risk losing a lot of people when it’s, you know, targeted invites or online and not everyone can engage in that way. So by putting some information on the street, it’ll at least create something in the public sphere so more people can see it, can experience it. It puts that conversation a little bit more, you know, sometimes in the news, on Facebook comments and then trying to collect that information back, I think can be difficult in these times where you’re necessarily, you don’t want to be on the street talking to every person who walks by. People aren’t necessarily comfortable with that. But I think that’s when you build on relationships and those that you have now and new ones so that you can work with specific groups who might have a little bit better access to some of the residents and get feedback through that way. So focusing less necessarily on, you know, this big group meetings or talking to people always in person, but building on those relationships and building those connections so they can have real conversations about these new- new ideas and new issues.
Mitchell Reardon [00:54:08] Thanks for underlining that Elora, you know, a lot of people are moving into the digital realm, but we have to recognize that not everybody’s going to be able to participate in those conversations. And finding new ways to do so are important to really underline the importance of those relationships that we have in place, but also to recognize that we may not have all of them that we need to do this work effectively. So we- constantly looking for folks that we need to engage in thinking not short term, non-transactionally, but more long term. And I mean, we- Happy City’s been doing work for the city of New Westminster, out in the open streets. And we’ve been out in the street quite a lot through forest fire, smoke, a pure fire through the pandemic to try and get that on for in-person staff because we found it is really important. Lower turnout than normal, about pre-COVID but still, I think it’s really underlines a point from Jason Syvixay- sorry for the name pronunciation, just about the fact that governments are trying different ways to govern, but are they doing the same process internally? So this is a key point to think about. We’ve only got about five minutes left and before we wrap up, just wanted to think a little bit back to winter so- a few of you are really focusing on this. But what do you think are the essential elements to making winter more appealing in Canadian cities and northern U.S. ones as well? And how- is the pandemic helping to- is this something that we’re going to be able to carry forward as a result? And what are we gonna do this winter that’s going to make these elements work a little bit better? And maybe I’ll start with Ebrahim talking a little bit more about the vacation street.
Ebrahim Varachia [00:55:43] Yeah. So just to reiterate, changing that mindset, people- bringing people out and giving people a reason to come out, I think is one of the biggest pieces. Our team at Bench Consulting just worked on a competition. We got over 60 responses. We’re going to be putting out an open source book, a booklet, coming out at the end of this month for communities to look at what are these ideas that we can have to bring people out to make sure they’re safe spaces and to make sure we can implement these projects really quickly and cheaply. And I think that the time that we have because of the pandemic, as we mentioned, there’s less concern and tie ups over permitting and bureaucracy, we have an opportunity to make change and create these public spaces for our winter communities and see if- if this can be something that we prove, hey, it worked last year during a pandemic. We can do this again. Look at the impact it can have outside of a pandemic. And so I think those are key elements to keep in mind, just keeping people creative on what they want to see in their communities and observing what other communities are doing.
Mitchell Reardon [00:56:59] Thanks for that, Ebrahim. I’m going to move over to Olivier to make sure everybody gets their last- last couple in.
Olivier Legault [00:57:04] Yeah, yeah, it’s- the time is short. And I think it’s important to- to- to take that part of our culture back and to relearn to play outside and to- to- to have fun and do. So basically all the new opportunities. If you give opportunity to the people to- to have little projects that will be like small scale community projects, I think that’s great.
Mitchell Reardon [00:57:31] Thanks Olivier.
Olivier Legault [00:57:34] Taking back our back streets in Montreal, that would be it. You know, having projects in your backstreet- backstreets with your neighbors.
Mitchell Reardon [00:57:43] Thank you for that. I can’t wait to see these new backstreets. I’m going to move up on my screen to Andrew.
Andrew Nakazawa [00:57:48] Yeah, I think just also echoing what Ebrahim was mentioning about giving people a reason to come out, especially here in Vancouver. Obviously, our winters are a little bit less about snow and more about rain. And so giving people a reason to come out and come out in the rain, come on in the colder weather, it- does that involve rain shelter, you know, light is often a big part here as well. It can be often gray and a little darker during the winter months. So encouraging people to come out in public spaces with light and art, again, providing that reason for people to get out during the pandemic. That’s been a case where people are doing less, there’s less things to do and go interact with. So providing those public space opportunities I think is really crucial.
Mitchell Reardon [00:58:32] Thank you. And up to Elora.
Elora Wilkinson [00:58:34] Sure, so I was really lucky as a kid to spend some of my childhood growing up in Germany. And part of what I remember most when I think about winter is the Christmas markets there and the piece of both the markets that really, I think, lingers with me and I think is really important as we design anything for the winter, especially going into this- this winter with the importance of our outdoor public spaces, is to really design for the senses. I see a couple of comments talking about, you know, the lighting and the importance of keeping up the- the darkness in the winter, but really heightening all of our senses. So, you know, bringing in music along the streets and in these plaza spaces, bringing in different textures and materials, you know, warm fur, wool, things that feel good and make us feel warmer. The smell, you know, many places have BeaverTails, I always think of that smell during the wintertime. But, you know, things that smell nice, the pine trees we were talking about, as well as the lights and the decorations and all these different pieces. So I think it’s really- that one thing I would think is really when you’re looking at any installations this year, whether they’re permanent, temporary, whether they’re big area or small areas, really thinking about all of the senses and how you can focus on that and really create a space in the winter that usually is quite blah and nothing and really heighten those senses. And I think you’ll have success creating a place where people want to spend time.
Mitchell Reardon [01:00:03] Thank you so much for that, Elora. And it is one o’clock Eastern, so thank you all for joining. There’s so much more that I’d love to talk to you about, like how we address homelessness and street involve people if we are putting rain cover up, so many other things that we’re not going have a chance to go into right now. But it’s been a pleasure to speak with you. And we really appreciate you taking the time to join us, as with everybody who has joined for this session as well. Lots of great comments here. And, you know, there’s a lot of work to be done as we go into the winter months to ensure that what we’re doing is- is working for an array of people, many of whom may not have been previously front and center in a lot of urbanist public realm work. So thank you for this conversation today and hope that we can continue it offline elsewhere. Thank you very much, everybody.
Olivier Legault [01:00:51] Thank you.
Andrew Nakazawa [01:00:51] Thanks everybody.
Emma Jones [01:00:51] Thank you everyone.
Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin
From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk
12:01:29 From Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
12:01:44 From Canadian Urban Institute: https://bringbackmainstreet.ca/rapid-placemaking
12:02:46 From Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session The Happy City https://thehappycity.com/
12:03:20 From paul mackinnon to All panelists: Hi from Halifax!
12:03:30 From paul mackinnon: Hi from Halifax!
12:03:32 From Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #BringBackMainStreet #citytalk @canurb
12:03:50 From Canadian Urban Institute: Friday, October 16, 12:00 – 1:00pm EDT
Main Street Action Week: Planning and Urban Design for Pandemic Recovery
Co-presented with Fathom Studio
12:03:50 From Barb McDougall: Hello from Sudbury, Ontario
12:04:07 From Ayusha Hanif: Hello from Penetanguishene, Ontario
12:04:10 From Chelsea Whity: Hi from Edmonton, AB
12:04:13 From Brian Buchardt: Hello from the City of Peterborough Ontario!
12:04:32 From Vallari Patel: Hello from Toronto, ON
12:04:39 From Canadian Urban Institute:
Ebrahim Varachia, Bench Placemaking
Andrew Nakazawa, Downtown Vancouver BIA
Olivier Legault, WinterLab
Elora Wilkinson, Halifax Regional Municipality
12:04:55 From Carol Hamill: Thank you, from Victoria area
12:07:10 From Diego Almaraz: Hi from what is known as Waterloo, ON. Traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples.
12:09:56 From paul mackinnon: Canadian BIAs may do some sort of joint funding submission to the new $31m Canadian Healthy Communities fund. Placemaking initiatives are eligible. Any funding ideas for something that could be rolled out in just about any town/city?
12:10:02 From C.J. Opperthauser to All panelists: In highlighting some of these types of projects around my town, I’ve been using the hashtag #spaceforpeople. Is anyone else using the same or a different hashtag for similar highlighting?
12:10:39 From C.J. Opperthauser: In highlighting some of these types of projects around my town, I’ve been using the hashtag #spaceforpeople. Is anyone else using the same or a different hashtag for similar highlighting?
12:10:58 From Canadian Urban Institute to C.J. Opperthauser and all panelists: Thanks for your question, CJ! Can you change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” and re-post? That way people in the chat can weigh in too. Thanks!
12:12:02 From C.J. Opperthauser to All panelists: Saw my error and did just that — thanks for the heads-up!
12:12:44 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Link to Bring Back Main Street Happy City Toolkit & other tools: https://bringbackmainstreet.ca/rapid-placemaking
12:13:36 From Meredith Plant: Hello from Hamilton, Ontario!
12:14:34 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Hi CJ, we’ve been using #bringbackmainstreet, but will check out #spaceforpeople
12:17:06 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Check out Olivier’s Winter lab facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/labhiver
12:19:07 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Ebrahim’s group has launched a winter design competition. Check it out: https://benchconsulting.co/winter-places/
12:22:18 From Ralph Cipolla: hello from councillor Ralph cipolla from
12:22:51 From Elizabeth Jassem, Y(i)DOME ID Ltd., (YC SSC) York Centre Seniors Steering to All panelists: Hello Everyone, from Toronto young seniors
12:24:10 From Elizabeth Jassem, Y(i)DOME ID Ltd., (YC SSC) York Centre Seniors Steering to All panelists: love Montreal and Halifax ideas for decoration streets. AMAZING!! We’re working with 2 great BIAs here..
12:24:20 From Ralph Cipolla: hello from councillor Ralph Cipolla from Orillia Ontario the sunshine city..
12:25:09 From Elizabeth Jassem, Y(i)DOME ID Ltd., (YC SSC) York Centre Seniors Steering to All panelists: creating warm sitting a must
12:26:16 From Kae Elgie: Challenging to think how one would manage the tree setup and decoration. Would people bring their own decorations? their own trees?
12:26:38 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Mandaworks is a Swedish firm — https://www.mandaworks.com/
12:26:54 From paula gallo: sorry just coming in. will a recording of this be shared after?
12:27:41 From Jonathan Giggs: from Port Credit in Mississauga
12:27:43 From Canadian Urban Institute to C.J. Opperthauser and all panelists: Hi, Paula! Yes, you can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:27:55 From Canadian Urban Institute: Hi, Paula! Yes, you can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:27:59 From Sean Columbus to All panelists: Who pays for these trees? Is it the municipality or the BIA?
12:28:14 From paula gallo: thank you.
12:29:26 From Savanah Sewell: Sanitizer stations!
12:29:35 From sue uteck: What has been your experience in dealing with the city, ie extending patio season, cost of street closures etc?
12:29:49 From Andrew Struthers to All panelists: Winter events in Edmonton will require indoor/outdoor space. You need to move through the indoor space though, like a gallery. No hanging out. Thanks for this.
12:30:09 From Andrea Betty: We thought of doing the trees a couple of years ago, and Public Works had a number of concerns with maintenance around them. Also vandalism, securing them to the ground and liability.
12:30:45 From Abby S: There was a wonderful winter park in Detroit last year
12:30:48 From Canadian Urban Institute: We love your comments and questions in the chat! Share them with everyone by changing your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”. Thanks!
12:31:11 From Abby S: Is it that kind of installation you are considering @ebrahim?
12:32:31 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Edmonton has done great work around changing behaviour to embrace winter. Check out: https://www.wintercityedmonton.ca/
12:34:04 From Andrew Struthers: Maybe. Despite the cheery headline this is not a good news story. Edmonton Journal: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-extending-temporary-patio-program-until-april-2021-to-provide-more-room-for-businesses-during-the-covid-19-winter
12:35:15 From DeeDee Nelson: Speaking of art, creativity and appreciation of nature, it would be great for every placemaking effort to invite input from the local Indigenous Peoples. Great opportunity to work together!
12:35:16 From Alanna Morton: Unfortunately Edmontonians still struggle to embrace the “winter mindset”
12:36:27 From Andrew Struthers: Flying Canoe begs to differ.
12:37:41 From Alanna Morton: Absolutely, winter festivals are one thing. But in terms of the day to day experience of a mainstreet I think there’s still some hesitation to fully embrace winter.
12:38:13 From DeeDee Nelson: I love the idea of involving all people using the spaces. Great to include young people as well, maybe in particular the skateboard community.
12:38:55 From Andrew Struthers: Correct about day to day vs festival. Gotta think smaller, local.
12:39:31 From Andrew Struthers: People are more comfortable in their neighbourhoods generally now, I think. Take it to their strip mall.
12:39:36 From Rebekah Noseworthy to All panelists: COVID-19 has made people so hyper aware of supporting local. I think now more than ever, non-placemaking people are observing what healthy, happy public spaces look like and their importance in the broader community
12:39:38 From Brynn Nheiley to All panelists: definitely agree that there is growing effort to think about “Winter Cities”. I think there’s a collective gap in thinking also about “Shoulder-season Cities”. Here in Burlington ON I think we have many more chilly-damp days than snowy winter days
12:41:26 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Great point about shoulder season!
12:41:49 From Canadian Urban Institute to Brynn Nheiley and all panelists: Can you change your chat settings? Your comment only went to panelists. Thanks!
12:41:52 From Jason Syvixay: How do we reconcile the desire to focus on recovery, which has largely been from a business and economic lens, with continued necessity to shelter those who are underhoused? Our placemaking initiatives create great vibrancy; but they don’t welcome everyone.
12:42:07 From Abby S: @Andrew I agree. If they are too big or too crowded and “centralized” it is not only less safe, but less community is generated.
12:42:37 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Also rethinking how we might do festivals to be COVID-safe. For instance Niagara’s Icewine Festival: https://niagarawinefestival.com and https://www.discovermuskoka.ca/events/bracebridge-fire-and-ice-festival/
12:43:10 From Brynn Nheiley: definitely agree that there is growing effort to think about “Winter Cities”. I think there’s a collective gap in thinking also about “Shoulder-season Cities”. Here in Burlington ON I think we have many more chilly-damp days than snowy winter days
12:43:23 From Andrew Struthers: And neighbourhood specific by amplifying your local biz community.
12:44:19 From Crystal Chan to All panelists: On shared spaces – City could also have you consider various kinds of crowds the installation would be drawing in to the setting. Unique, hyperlocal aspects to be considered:)
12:45:01 From Canadian Urban Institute to Crystal Chan and all panelists: Can you change your chat settings? Your comment only went to panelists. Thanks!
12:45:23 From Savanah Sewell: The pandemic has also shown us the disparity for the vulnerable folks in our communities. With the lack of foot traffic / connection to our main streets. Which in some ways has created more of an issue. How we include EVERYONE and take care of each other has never been more important. But if can be difficult for people to want to be apart of those solutions. Programming is one part but the other is supporting on the social services side
12:46:45 From Andrew Struthers: It would be great if CoE had heaters to rent, other infrastructure too. Thick sided tents for performances.
12:47:12 From Crystal Chan: On shared spaces and helping to enhance city life – City also tends to have you consider various kinds of crowds the installation would be drawing in to the setting. Unique, hyperlocal aspects to be considered:)
12:49:34 From Jason Syvixay: Governments have shown how they can govern differently, whether that it is converting streets into places; but have we seen that same shift in their internal processes and ways of doing things? How do we, as creative placemakers, reduce the fear of risk?
12:50:00 From Abby S: The ability for restaurants to rent heaters is a great idea. Unfortunately, they are almost universally sold out. But a rental program would be much more helpful than requiring small establi
12:50:25 From paul mackinnon: Jason – what are you doing now? Haven’t seen you since your days with DT Winnipeg.
12:50:29 From Abby S: oops…small establishments to lay out the cash, which they are unlike to have.
12:51:05 From DeeDee Nelson: Great to involve/hire different groups e.g. universities to create observational data about the success/or not, of any trial ideas.
12:51:27 From Abby S: Full rental programs for outdoor winter patio equipment in general would be a wonderful thing for cities or BIA’s to offer…
12:51:30 From Jason Syvixay: @Paul – So great to hear from you (saw your name in the pandemic response doc!). Working at the City of Edmonton now on infill policy.
12:51:49 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Paul — Jason will be a panelist on tomorrow’s webinar!
12:53:37 From Jonathan Berk: One thing we’ve tried to encourage communities in the Northeast is, “the pilot is the process” is a great methodology during this time but you HAVE to ensure you’re properly collecting some constructive community feedback to inform changes and eventually making these spaces permanent.
12:54:28 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: Good point Jonathan. Makes monitoring & evaluation a critical part of the process. make sure you’re budgeting for that.
12:55:22 From Andrew Struthers: I see the academic/biz requirement for the data but sometimes, in my event experience, it’s about doing a thing repeatedly, regularly etc. that will establish an area. People come to expect something…
12:55:31 From Jason Syvixay: You got it!
12:56:22 From Canadian Urban Institute: Find the toolkit here: Rapid Placemaking to Bring Back Main Street
A Pandemic Recovery Toolkit for Local Communities https://bringbackmainstreet.ca/rapid-placemaking
To read this and other solutions briefs, visit:
Register for our last Action Week session tomorrow at: https://bringbackmainstreet.ca/action-week
You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
Keep the conversation going #BringBackMainStreet #citytalk @canurb
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CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session The Happy City https://thehappycity.com/
12:56:24 From Andrew Struthers: Hence why these one-time NRC grants aren’t always useful
12:57:13 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: You can sign up for the Winter Guide from Bench here: https://benchconsulting.co/winter-places/
12:57:28 From Cyrus Miceli: I think it is very interesting to think about the priority of light and lighting during winter placemaking ~ as Ebrahim mentioned, color and light is what brings warmth to a space, more so than the temperature itself. I wonder if others share this opinion
12:57:54 From Andrew Struthers: And urban spaces with lots of reflective surfaces for light and heat
12:58:16 From Lisa Cavicchia CUI: I heard Isla Tanaka from Edmonton talk about how it’s important to manage the darkness
12:59:01 From paul mackinnon: Thanks everyone!
12:59:03 From Savanah Sewell: Montreal / Ottawa have always done a great job of encouraging outdoor winter activities! Lots to learn from
12:59:24 From Abby S: Thank you all…wonderful to see real concrete ideas that are going to be implemented.
12:59:53 From C.J. Opperthauser: Yes to senses! Love your thoughts on including that classic pine scent, too.
13:00:20 From Abby S: As they say on Game of Thrones…
13:00:27 From Abby S: Winter is Coming….
13:00:41 From C.J. Opperthauser: Thanks all! This was great!
13:00:55 From Carol Hamill: Thank you for this, great ideas, best wishes.
13:00:56 From Scott Cluney: Thanks from Downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland
13:01:04 From Meredith Plant: thank you!
13:01:05 From Lindsey Sexton to All panelists: thank you all, from Boulder, Colorado
13:01:06 From Dawn Alan to All panelists: From Charlottetown PEI, Great Session! thanks you contributors.
13:01:07 From Andrew Struthers: Always good to see where you have existing rain cover – maybe that’s your spot for an event
13:01:16 From Wilma Wotten: Thanks from Port Perry Ontario