The mayor, members of city council and senior staff took part in a day-long workshop on placemaking recently. I must say it was a most interesting experience and I thank Mayor Anthony Housefather, Councillor Ruth Kovac and City Manager Tanya Abramovitch for inspiring us to take part.
A few weeks ago the mayor, Councillor Kovac and Tanya attended a conference and met the people from Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a non-profit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Their pioneering “placemaking” approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.
PPS was founded in 1975 to expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, they have completed projects in over 2,500 communities in 40 countries and all 50 US states. Partnering with public and private organizations, federal, state and municipal agencies, business improvement districts, neighborhood associations and other civic groups, we improve communities by fostering successful public spaces.
In addition to leading projects in their nine program areas, PPS also trains more than 10,000 people every year and reaches countless more through its websites and publications. PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools and inspiration about Placemaking.
Through research, conferences, and strategic partnerships, PPS promotes “placemaking” as a transformative agenda to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. In its broadest application, “placemaking” is a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities of the future.
In Côte Saint-Luc we are about to embark upon some exciting times. Our new $18 million Community and Aquatic Centre is under construction and expected to be completed by the summer. The Cavendish Mall development is also taking shape, with 40 percent of the shopping centre currently being demolished.
PPS President Fred Kent (right) and Senior Director (Downtowns and Streets) Norman Mintz showed us multiple examples of public spaces, in “before” and “after” shots.
To say this inspired us is an understatement. PPS split us up into small team and had us head outdoors. Our task was to examine the front of our City Hall/Library complex from different vantage points. It was an eye opening experience. We came back inside energized and full of ideas of how we could transform this area. I will save the details for another day when perhaps citizens will rejoice over the exciting choices we make. But let me be clear. This council now has a brand new way of looking at the “public places” in our community and we are better for it.
Check out pps for yourself here.