By Allegra Newman –
Wellington West BIA Executive Director, Zachary Dayler, stands beside the orange and white mailbox planted amongst the flowers in front of the Hintonburg Community Centre on Wellington Street. He talks about how parents and kids waiting for the bus or a friend can open the mailbox and find chalk and colouring sheets to keep them occupied. The evidence is all around in the brightly coloured chalk drawings decorating the pavement in front of the community center. This is one of the initiatives selected by the Wellington West BIA as part of TacticalWest: the most recent endeavour by the BIA, with Zachary at the helm, to make the neighbourhood between Somerset Bridge and Island Park Drive an interesting and unique destination for the locals and beyond.
Zachary says he and the BIA are inspired by the motto that a “city to play in is a city to stay in.” The BIA is ready to invest in creative community initiatives that help make the neighbourhoods of Hintonburg and Wellington Village fun and interesting places to be.
The community mailbox was conceived by a local resident, Adrian Archer, and submitted to the BIA as part of a call for ideas back in the spring. Other initiatives include a checkerboard painted at Somerset Square, a community courtyard with seating at the corner of Irving and Wellington and more Stop Gap ramps to allow for easier mobility into shops in the neighbourhood.
The BIA, Zachary says, hopes to make the TacticalWest grants a yearly endeavour and encourages community members to start thinking creatively outside the box for next year.
In the meantime, the BIA is busy beautifying the neighbourhood by installing interesting bike racks in strategic locations, rearranging street furniture and installing gateway signage at key locations. There are also plans to paint a giant map mural representing neighbourhood hot spots on the wall outside the Pizza Pizza location at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Wellington Street.
The Wellington West BIA also launched a new grant program aimed at creative placemaking called Entrepre-Mural. Artists, partnering with local businesses, applied for $2000 to put toward the creation of a public mural project along Wellington and Somerset. It’s expected that murals will be at various stages of completion during Tastes of Wellington West on September 17.
The BIA believes that both the TacticalWest and the Entrepre-Mural grant programs encourage community and business partnerships and make the neighbourhood a more fun place to live, work and shop.
Zachary is excited by the most recent changes suggested by neighbourhood residents and is encouraging local residents to get creative and put their best placemaking ideas into action on the street corners, storefronts of Hintonburg and West Wellington.