Crowdsourcing a more vibrant Ottawa

By Allegra Newman – 

The Wellington West neighbourhood North of Wellington is considered a highly walkable, liveable place. You can walk quickly to a multitude of restaurants, bakeries and specialty food shops, but the one thing this neighbourhood could use more of is community parks. My children need to cross at least one busy major street to get to a playground. However, there is an underused green space at the corner of Island Park and Wellington that I walk by every day and have my eye on. I have visions of creating a small parkette here that my kids could walk to easily without having to battle dangerous traffic. There are similar pockets of land all over Ottawa that people wonder about every day.

Citizen’s Academy and architect initiative Atelier Ruderal are partnering to help Ottawans learn about community placemaking and how to transform underused public spaces across the city.  According to Laine Johnson of Citizen’s Academy, community placemaking can be a powerful tool. It is a collaborative way to transform underused spaces into community- and human-centered areas. These are the places in our neighbourhoods that bring neighbours together and form the vibrant hearts of our communities. And the community is the expert when it comes to transforming public places. The transformative power of community-based participation to develop creative, vibrant public spaces needs to come from initiatives that are for the people and by the people. Citizen’s Academy is excited to share the tools and best practices learned from other cities with participants in Ottawa.

Starting May 15, Citizen’s Academy is bringing groups of citizens from across the city together to discuss which public spaces in Ottawa need revitalizing and how to do it. Using Milieu, a new web and mobile technology developed by Atelier Ruderal, people can identify spaces as they pass by and crowdsource creative ways of reinvigorating and transforming these underused spaces into vibrant community places. Milieu also allows people to share ideas about neighbourhood developments, inform themselves about specific proposed development plans and share feedback with other users and city officials.

Citizen’s Academy is inviting local residents to attend the inaugural workshop on May 15 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Mostly Danish Furniture (1000 Wellington St. W.). Participants will be introduced to placemaking tools and will be asked to identify underused public spaces in Ottawa that they want to reimagine. According to Laine Johnson, this is the first of a series of workshops that will follow and assist citizen teams as they work through the process of engaging their local community and redesigning a local public space.

Reimagining public spaces

Which spaces in Kitchissippi would you transform? Is there an intersection that could use some innovative traffic calming, a strip of grass that calls out for a parkette? What are your visions for placemaking in our neighbourhoods? Send your feedback to

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