The below is a city press release set out the other day. I posted it here and now if for no other reason because it was posted on the Guelph Mercury's 59 Carden St. blog where it got a, shall we say, visceral response. Overall it's a collection of the usual rabble, the ones who think consultation is a waste of time and/or the city wants public input, but will swiftly ignore it. There is also the usual collection of broad generalizations about our downtown: drugs, panhandlers, over-flowing bars.
Of course, none of that is essentially untrue, but I'd be more likely to invest time in that commentary if I thought the majority of it wasn't coming from people that rarely, if never, go downtown and simply draw their conclusions from things they've heard. Laying aside that the downtown is the oldest part of the city, and ergo perhaps more difficult to deal with given the aging infrastructure and space demands, for every person who thinks downtown Guelph is scion of a bygone day that's had its time and pass gracefully into the era of Big Box mentality, there's someone else who loves the downtown, it's culture and offerings.
Surely the two Guelphs can continue to co-exist peacefully together. Perhaps you might even come out Wednesday and get involved. After all, they are asking for public input. Warning though, there may be some walking involved. And I know how much some people in Guelph hate that.
Here's the press release:
GUELPH, ON, February 28, 2013 – The City of Guelph invites all interested community members to participate in a placemaking workshop on the program and function of Downtown Guelph’s streets and public spaces.
The interactive workshop, which includes a walking tour, is scheduled for next Wednesday, March 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Carden St.
To continue supporting growth and intensification of the downtown core, the City wants to develop the detailed vision of the community’s and local businesses’ needs for the area’s parks, squares, and streets. The placemaking discussion will help shape the short- and long-term activities and projects for these spaces. Placemaking is an urban design process that helps cities to achieve public spaces that are engaging, practical, and well designed.
“Incorporating these needs into Guelph’s future design will allow the Downtown’s public spaces to play an even greater role in energizing the city’s civic heart and local economy,” says Ian Panabaker, corporate manager of Downtown Renewal.
The City has retained internationally recognized Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a non-profit organization committed to best practices in revitalizing public spaces, to facilitate the workshop.
Input received at the workshop will lead to short-term projects and provide direction for future capital projects including road reconstructions in the downtown core, and the long-term revitalization of St. George’s Square. The community’s feedback will also be used to help update technical documents such as the Downtown Streetscape Manual and Built Form Standards.
Individuals interested in attending the workshop are asked to RSVP by contacting Michelle Mercier at 519-822-1260 x 2459 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Related workshop materials can be found at guelph.ca/placemaking.