2015 Will Be The Year Of The Street!

The stars are aligning and momentum is building to make 2015 the year of the street!

In this federal election year Ottawa is projecting its long awaited budget surplus. Governments at all levels are asking what investments yield the most jobs quickly and can sustainably provide the foundation for further growth and investment?

Our answer at StreetscapeCanada is look to the streets! They are the veins and arteries of our economy and society. Our national health depends on them.

Streetscaping is the multifaceted process of street building and renewal. It includes basic infrastructure like water, sewerage and underground utilities of course, but also the everyday quality of life issues of clean air, shade and shelter.

The centerpiece is the planting of trees and the creation of spaces and places we can congregate, socialize, work and live in together!

The benefits are many…

Economic

Renewed streetscapes are the foundations upon which private investment can grow. Newly streetscaped areas see increased private investment creating restaurant and bar districts, or high tech creative class districts of mixed use, walkable and liveable communities.

Streetscaped areas with tree lined streets and undergrounded utility lines retain and appreciate value better than neglected unattractive areas.

Infrastructure renewal like undergrounding of older utility networks improve utility reliability and reduce the threats of power outages from increased storm frequency and intensity due to climate change. Reduced outages reduce the costs of down time, damaged networks and lost productivity.

Telecommunications utility renewal means new fibre optic networks providing faster internet access and bandwidth yielding increased investment in IT and increased productivity.

Streetscaping is literally shovel ready infrastructure. In some cases just planting trees is the answer. In others undergrounding utility lines is needed. In some new sidewalks, bike paths or waterfront boardwalks are needed and in many all these elements are needed. Fortunately they are all shovel ready.  Good paying streetscaping jobs are skill diverse and reduce the barriers for unskilled workers to join the workforce.

Societal

Streetscaping is shovel ready, geographically dispersed skill diverse job growth. Labour intensive elements like tree planting and landscape installation provide great job satisfaction and pride as we build better communities together.

Busy streets are safer streets reducing crime and poverty.

Environmental

Streetscaping is planting trees and greening our cities. Trees sequester carbon and filter pollutants in our air and water. They stabilize the soil. They provide shade and reduce summer heat island effects thus reducing urban temperatures, air conditioning costs, electrical consumption and carbon emissions. Tree shade helps to protect us from harmful UV radiation and thus saves lives and heath costs related to skin cancer.

Green tree lined streets encourage us to walk, run, cycle and gain all the health benefits that accompany exercise.

Aesthetic

For many people the beautification of our streets and urban spaces is an unnecessary foible. Some see trees as burdens or inconveniences, but building beautiful cities, towns, villages and indeed communities provide a better quality of life.

The color green has been shown to reduce stress and all the negative health outcomes that manifest.

Tree lined streets, boulevards and avenues improve our health and happiness.

Beautiful cities attract tourists. Beautiful communities attract investment. Beautiful streets attract people who want to visit them and live on them.

The secret to building beautiful streets is to bury the utility lines and plant trees. The answer is to streetscape. __________________________________________________________________________________

All across Canada new streetscape projects are ready to go or awaiting budget approvals. Many have taken years of study and public input yet remain unfunded.

Here a just a few examples.

Halifax’s Spring Garden Road was identified and had plans completed in 2009. These plans have languished for years. Fortunately a small portion of Spring Garden Road was streetscaped in 2014 in front of Halifax’s spectacular new Public Library. Now is the time to finish the whole street and build on the momentum of its new internationally acclaimed architectural achievement. halifax-central-library-schmidt-hammer-lassen-architects-03 Halifax Library with utility poles

Thankfully several spectacular mature trees were saved and the ugly utility lines were undergrounded.  Halifax’s new Central Library has received international recognition and been featured in many architectural journals and websites.  It would have been rather unfortunate if the utility lines had been left in the street.  Now is the time to streetscape all of Spring Garden Road and implement the plans created by Terrain Consultants in 2009.

Halifax SpringGardenRoadFinalAppendices

Moncton’s St. George Street is one of the most important commercial districts in the city. Plans were completed in 2009 by ADI Consultants

Moncton St George st conceptualplan Moncton downtown_design_solutions

Fredericton’s Main Street Reconstruction Project Plan Draft was completed in March 2014 by the Glen Group Landscape Architects Fredericton MainStreet 3 Fredericton MainStreet 4 Fredericton MainStreet 5 Fredericton MainStreet 6 Fredericton MainStreet 7 Fredericton MainStreet 8

Ottawa is rebuilding Sussex Drive and renewing this important and historic ceremonial river-side drive between Rideau Hall and Parliament Hill.

http://ottawa.ca/en/major-projects/construction-and-infrastructure/roadwork/sussex-drive-confederation-boulevard http://ottawa.ca/en/major-projects/construction-and-infrastructure/roadwork/public-open-house-1-april-12-2012#landscape

The Niagara Region has begun the reconstruction of its main street and implementing “complete street” designs by Urban Strategies Inc. Niagara Region Complete-Streets-Visualization

Toronto continues its extraordinary Queen’s Quay streetscape reconstruction. http://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/explore_projects2/central_waterfront/queens_quay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIv4dCDfIlc#t=22

Winnipeg continues The Shed Downtown redevelopment

http://www.shedwinnipeg.com/projects/

Edmonton’s Jasper Place redevelopment

http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/projects_redevelopment/jasper-place-revitalization.aspx

Calgary’s East Village development

http://www.calgarymlc.ca/explore-projects/east-village

Vancouver’s Vancouver House development

http://vancouverhouse.ca/

These are just a sampling of the streetscape designs and plans that are underway in Canada. Most are ready to go or are already under construction. StreetscapeCanada encourages governments of all levels to increase the focus on our streets and get the shovels in the ground on these and other worthy investments. Let’s make 2015 the year of the street!

About Streetscape Canada

Streetscapes are our most important public spaces.

We drive, cycle, walk, run, sit, relax, work and live on them.

Streetscape Canada encourages Canadians to reclaim these precious public spaces and make them healthier, cleaner, safer, more beautiful and more prosperous for all.  

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