By Allegra Newman –
Sitting shoulder to shoulder the citizens of Ottawa had their hands busy folding construction paper and molding plasticine on May 15. Using little wooden blocks, drink umbrellas and pompoms, the beautiful tables of Mostly Danish in Hintonburg provided the surface for residents to gather and construct models reimagining their local public spaces.
In this, the first part of the Citizen City Workshop series, developed by Citizen Academy, community is the expert. Empowered to use “on the ground knowledge,” participants discussed the qualities of the places they love and the places that they feel need some extra attention. They discussed how the aspects of hope, prosperity, pride, culture, justice, play, safety, beauty and environment are missing in many public spaces and dreamed about what we can do to change these local spaces for
According to Citizen Academy’s Laine Johnson, residents have the power to use their knowledge of the spaces around them to plan and design interactive and usable spaces.
Councillor Jeff Leiper applauded the energy in the room and emboldened Kitchissippi residents to “go out and do something to make things better.”
As part of the event, two groups of citizens worked together to create models reimagining Somerset Square: an underused parkette at the junction of Wellington West and Somerset West streets. In both proposals, the participants brainstormed how to change the isolated and underused feel of the square. Creating shade, increasing the seating, introducing art and programming for multiple ages were just some of the suggestions. One group also suggested expanding the park into the adjacent Wellington West Street dead end.
Milieu.io was on hand to share their interactive mobile app and explain how people get involved in local planning and development. One of the projects they are currently working on is the proposed senior residential development behind the Superstore at 190 Richmond. Through their app they are sharing information and collecting feedback about this project.
Alongside learning and dreaming about placemaking, the West Wellington BIA launched TacticalWest, a $500 local placemaking grant program to inspire local creativity of the public corners and spaces along Wellington West. By the beginning of June residents will be seeing a number of interesting temporary installations and creative spaces popping up along the streetscape.
For more information about Citizen City please see Citizencity.ca.
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