Vivo has partnered with Parks Foundation Calgary on Place Matters: A North Calgary Project.
The goal of this initiative is to foster a strong sense of belonging by enhancing outdoor public park spaces across North Calgary. The now-completed Phase One of the project included engagement of community members to gain an understanding of what they felt would help develop vibrant, thriving neighbourhoods.
What We Did
Using a co-development model, we collaborated with key community mobilizers on an event and targeted engagements. The event included “streams” of engagement: a blessing of the land (open to the public) and two bus tours (one targeting business owners and operators and the other targeting community activators).
Summary of event attendees and feedback:
Summary of key takeaways:
BUILD THINGS THAT PEOPLE CARE FOR & ARE SUSTAINABLE
There is a strong appetite to bring people together in safe and collaborative environments to pursue public spaces and infrastructure. Spaces where the community have been given a feeling of input or ownership become more sustainable as citizens are more likely to proactively collaborate not only to create them but maintain and activate these areas. Here community activators mentioned the importance of having support from others – skill development, applying for funding, resources, partnerships, tools, platforms and early communication to work through city processes, systems and approvals — especially volunteers.
A WELL RUN COMMUNITY
Community members overarchingly said they valued a space where they felt safe, could create real connections and could learn more about other perspectives, cultures and living healthier lives. They feel most like they belong when they see themselves reflected in their communities, can participate in with others to create new purposes for outdoor spaces and have neighbours that unite on issues and solutions.
Local business owners were focused on growth and connection with other businesses/owners to leverage distribution, resources and give back opportunities. They identified vibrant public spaces as an ideal way to attract other businesses and a critical mass of customers and shared wanting a place where they have a stronger voice in the creation and activation of public spaces adjacent to their business and transportation is diversified and improved in Calgary suburb areas. Business owners also expressed a desire for simpler approval processes for outdoor retail and ‘roadside’ food permit opportunities.
SAFE & INSPIRING NEIGHBOURHOODS
Community activators valued the creation of safe, flexible, adaptable and accessible spaces. They also spoke about navigating tensions like personal risk and liability, competing for funding and layers of approvals to start and finish their projects. Integration of art and targeted infrastructure are important in public spaces to help shape the community and lead to diverse impacts including local artists promoting their work and people feeling connected to their neighbours.
They communicated wanting more spaces that:
- Help people get fresh air and experience nature.
- Integrate more trees, pollination corridors, gardens, forest play areas and mental health & healing trails.
- Intentionally connect pathways and corridors to assets in neighbourhoods.
- Specific areas designated by and for youth.
- Are outdoors and adjacent to a brewery or arts & culture spaces, where they can bring their children and pets to activate new experiences.
- Have ancillary elements like garbage bins and picnic tables with wayfinding signage and shaded seating.
- Have accessible elements like play hubs for newer communities with limited services.
Phase Two begins in winter 2023 to gather more insights from diverse audiences and work with community groups to identify current and potential outdoor public parks projects.