Urban Renewal and Revitalization
Culture-based initiatives have been essential to urban revitalization and urban renewal programs in Canada. The arts ensure a community's habitat reflects who residents are and how they live.
Click below for the PDF version of Urban Renewal and Revitalization section of Making the Case, as well as Profiles.
Profile researchers/writers of profiles:
Claire Dimond-Gibson, Elise Finnigan, Katie Warfield and Steven R. Dang, with additions by Creative City Network members and friends.
- Urban Renewal and Revitalization [PDF]
A country is made up of many parts, its inhabitants key players. The arts ensure their habitat reflects who they are and how they live.
- Urban Renewal Anchored on Legacy and Community: Edmonton's Churchill Square
The redevelopment of Sir Winston Churchill Square is designed to interlink the vital arteries of time and history, people and community, and place and environment to create a successful and integrated urban space for social and cultural celebration.
SOME HAVE LIKENED redevelopment in a city core to the replacement of an organ in a body or the replanting of a plot in an ecosystem - all these processes require the careful interconnection and integration of the new piece with all the complexities of the preexisting system.
When the Churchill Park Legacy Project is opened in Edmonton this October, it will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the City, and will also redevelop the large space of Churchill Park which is located to the south of Edmonton's City Hall. This space will be developed into a vital multi-use civic space.
The theme of interconnectedness is fundamental throughout the Legacy Project. Sir Winston Churchill Square will lodge three large public structures, and a central natural waterfall will act as the interlinking motif for the buildings. The area will also have an expansive treed and greened landscape to blend the straight-edged cityscape with the more natural flow of a park space.
Even the economics of the development are an illustration of the success in connectedness and interlinkage, as the $12.3 million budget for Churchill Square incorporates funding from the three interconnected levels of government as well as private donors.
The development philosophy for the Sir Winston Churchill Square redevelopment is of leading significance for its strong social and community consideration. The urban renewal project was designed to interlink the vital arteries of time and history, people and community, and place and environment to create a successful and integrated urban space for social and cultural celebration.
Time and History
Churchill Square has a long history of redevelopment attempts dating to the naming of the site in 1965 after Britain's famous son. Since 1912 there have been several hopeful suggestions for the construction of projects such as a civic square with an outdoor public amphitheatre, or a public park with a glass dome atrium leading to a subterranean downtown mall. The significance of history, the park's history and Edmonton's history, is one of the arterial themes interwoven into the design of the new Churchill Square development project.
Several elements of the design of Churchill Square will also "tell Edmonton's stories with equal focus on our past, present and future, " according to the Edmonton 2004 Committee. Five, ten-foot dynamically illuminated Story Poles will present reflections into different historical periods of the City. The Interpretive Centre, located at the southwest side of the Square, will offer tourist information about, and will sell tickets to, the current arts and cultural events taking place in Edmonton. The second level of the glass-roofed complex functions as a viewing gallery to the other areas of the Square and will also house and display rotating exhibitions of artwork. The architecture of the Interpretive Centre is designed to interconnect with local architectural elements by mirroring the historical open concept and design of City Hall.
People and Community
The design process, which began in 1996, integrated the second vital artery of dedicated social and community consideration into the successful and lively redevelopment of the Churchill Square urban redevelopment. In 1996, the Downtown Development Corporation revealed plans to develop an arts district for the downtown core with a central focus on establishing a "role, function and overall design for Sir Winston Churchill Square and environs. " Although this vision was of a "master planning" and comprehensive orientation, the actual design process involved a great deal of local community collaboration.
The designing of the Square took place between 2000 and 2002 and incorporated traveling "road shows" of the evolving design. The architects and developers arranged public displays and meetings and solicited opinions from the community, businesses, city council, investors, and media. The process also involved public surveys on community acceptance of the plans. This lengthy and socially-focused design process ensured a high level of public integration (in fact 83% approval rate) so the redevelopment initiative appropriately integrated the vivacious "people" element of the City.
Place and Environment
Environment and landscape was the final of the three essential arteries of the Churchill Square redevelopment. The focal point of the landscaping will be a large waterfall with reflection pools and waterways that will interconnect the Interpretive Centre to an outdoor public amphitheatre. The site will be greened with grass and some 50 trees to encourage public usage and the creation of a dynamic urban park. The south Public Pavilion is a large open-air and glass-roofed structure with a large central stonework hearth and moveable furniture for intimate or larger social gatherings. Sustainable design is represented in the facilities infrastructure of the Churchill Square complex, as power, gas, water, and fiber options, are all housed underground for efficiency and cost-reduction. Edmonton's Churchill Square Legacy Project is an illustration of a redevelopment project where a considerate and socially aware redevelopment approach that integrates and interconnects time, people and place, arts and culture, and history will result in successful urban renewal for the city's future.
Profile by: Katie Warfield (Creative City Network of Canada, 2005-2006).
- Youth Reclaiming & Transforming their Environment: The story of Greater Victoria's Trackside Art Gallery
GREATER VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
The focus of this Gallery is youth. Youth have been involved in the planning of the gallery, the printing and application of the decals, the construction and mounting of the exterior art panels, the design and maintenance of the park and the creation of the art.
ROCK SOLID is a non-profit organization committed to violence prevention. The Foundation was formed in 1997, shortly after the tragedy of Reena Virk, by a group of police officers and Shamrocks lacrosse team in Greater Victoria. The purpose of Rock Solid is provide kids with positive alternatives to violence, intimidation, and aggressive behaviour.
Trackside Art Gallery (TAG) "a.k.a. the World's Largest Outdoor Youth Art Gallery" is an outdoor art corridor established by the Rock Solid Foundation in an area once prone to criminal activity. Rock Solid E-Teams and HRDC crews removed more than 3,000 kg of garbage, metal, and waste wood from the site to create an environment that promotes community respect and ownership.
TAG has two mediums of art; a one kilometre-long wall of Urban/Graffiti art, and 32 pieces of billboard-sized original youth and professional art work, which are located above the urban/graffiti art wall area. The "organic urban art mural" is a free-space "a legal graffiti wall" open to contributions from all urban artists. Artists of pieces here range from 5-year-old artists to Robert Bateman, Ted Harrison, and Art Vickers (to name a few). Rock Solid will be putting up 16 more pieces of art in this corridor. The unveiling and launch party are scheduled for September 11, 2004.
The focus of this Gallery is youth. Youth have been involved in the planning of the gallery, the printing and application of the decals, the construction and mounting of the exterior art panels, the design and maintenance of the park, and the creation of the art. Through their participation in all these various ways, youth participants and artists have gained valuable skills towards meaningful employment.
An innovative component of Rock Solid's operations has been the development of a social enterprise, The Factory Print Shop, which employs youth. Net proceeds from The Factory Print Shop go to Rock Solid's violence prevention programs. The print shop does wide format printing, graphic and logo design, banners, billboards, posters, pamphlets, and brochures - to name just a few items. The Factory Print Shop currently has the potential of employing 6 youth and is planning to be able to employ more in the future.
Since 2000, partners and youth from the community have been restoring the Trackside Gallery area as an urban green space by removing trash, reclaiming the weed choked orchard, building gardens, painting murals, and creating pathways. The project has employed over 50 youth participants as part of several E-Teams and HRDC crews to transform this neglected crime corridor into a vibrant greenspace. The goal is to create an environment that will evoke a sense of respect and ownership in those who frequent the area.
The Trackside Art Gallery itself is the feature of a larger initiative, the West Side Rail Trail Project, a 7-year project commencing January 2005. The Project will build an eco-friendly art corridor from the Johnson Street Bridge to the Colwood Interchange and will serve as a crime prevention tool while giving an aesthetic facelift to the area. This project will not only create a safe and beautiful walkway, but will also employ more than 300 youth over this time.
Revenue is generated through corporate and organizational sponsorship of each artwork and the sale of the original pieces. Proceeds are divided between the Rock Solid Foundation educational programme, the young artist, and the cost of producing and erecting the art panel.
The Trackside Art Gallery helps generations come together. Local artists such as Robert Bateman, Phyllis Serota, and Carey Newman also mentor the young artists. In supporting WITS, younger children are also brought into the fold. WITS is a child-safety education programme targeted at younger children (Kindergarten to Grade 3) that is designed to give children the information they need to make safe and positive choices when faced with situations involving threats, violence or aggressive behaviour. The community is also brought together each year on site in celebration of all the youth efforts, contributions, and art through an opening gala festival with food, activities, and performances.
- Arts projects can cleans up and beautify neighbourhoods, and can assist in creating a safer urban environment for the entire community.
- Arts and cultural centres provide a safe environment for positive activity for youth, engaging youth as contributors in many ways to their community.
- Community-based arts and cultural programs develop a sense of ownership in the area by youth and the community in general.
- Arts and cultural projects, such as the Trackside Gallery, develop leadership skills as youth are involved in all stages of planning, design, organization, implementation, and maintenance of the Gallery.
- The Trackside Gallery project provides employment for youth in environmental clean-up crews and monetarily compensates young artists for their creative work. It also provides opportunities for youth participants to gain valuable skills towards meaningful employment.
- Visible community-based arts projects, like the Trackside Gallery, legitimize and values creative youth expression. The project displays the sponsored art installations by youth alongside artistic expressions by other youth in spaces open to contributions from anyone and everyone.
- Community youth arts programs facilitate the development of young artists and the refinement of their skills through mentorship with professional artists.
- Community arts centres build community and interaction between generations through mentorship, sponsorships and community celebrations.
- Engage the entire community. Facilitate intergenerational connections. Build community partnerships, mentorships, and sponsorships. Celebrate the contributions of youth in the community.
- Build leadership by involving youth in all stages of the programme.
- When possible, employ youth and reward them monetarily for their valuable contributions.
- Foster respect and responsibility for the environment in the process.
Profile by: Steven R. Dang (Creative City Network of Canada, 2006)
- Integrating Urban Design and Cultural Activity for Cultural Connection and Vibrancy: Halifax urban renewal
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
Halifax Regional Municipality has launched a number of initiatives to ensure the downtown core remains vibrant and help it become a more livable space, from beautifying the physical elements of the downtown core to nurturing and supporting public celebrations and cultural activity.
MORE CITIES are recognizing the increasing importance of urban design in growing centres. Urban design challenges the often-neglected elements of public space to serve a deeper meaning in the community. The intermediary elements, which divide public space from private space, such as roads, benches, parks, greenways, sidewalks, boulevards and even parking are now being designed to cleverly integrate elements such as art that will weave culture, identity and community directly into the canvas of the cityscape. Cities and regions such as the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) are turning to urban design projects to make the urban core a more livable space.
To promote urban design the HRM has introduced two initiatives: they have created a Task Force to coordinate the activities that often fall under the ambit of urban design. The municipality has also raised recognition and support for urban design through this year's First Annual HRM Capital District Urban Design Awards. The awards, which recognized the efforts of architects, planners, developers, designers, and community groups, highlighted some of the recent urban design initiatives in Halifax, which have contributed to the promotion of arts, culture and community in Halifax. These initiatives have included the beautification of public spaces, the restoration of heritage elements, and environmental preservation.
Beautification of Public Spaces
Halifax undertook several initiatives this past year to beautify and renovate the image of the downtown core. The 2003 Graffiti Eradication Program removed over 50,000 square feet of illegal graffiti in the HRM. The City also undertook several Capital Projects including the reconstruction of a public resting place facing the Halifax North Public Library. The Capital District Task Force has developed a new and aesthetically pleasing way-finding system which will help both vehicular and pedestrian traffic navigate the different districts of the central business district.
Places for People
Civic Events and Festivals draw audiences into the urban core, to sites like the Grand Parade in front of City Hall, and the waterfront - even MacDonald Bridge is closed to traffic for natal day. Working very closely with the provincial agency, Waterfront Development Corporation, HRM produces events facilitates other events on the waterfront. Spaces on the boardwalks, in pocket parks and around pedestrian thorough fares provide room for tents and stages, cables, kiosks, performers and the audience in peak season. Making these spaces vibrant and attractive to people means ensuring that the space visually attractive as well as having adequate amenities that can support activities that draw thousands to events like Tall Ships, The International Buskers Festival, Grou Tyme and The Holiday Tree Lighting.
Restoration of Heritage Elements
The City has also taken action to incorporate historical appreciation into their urban design philosophy with the adoption of heritage preservation initiatives. Heritage Home Grants provide up to $5,000 for minor repairs and restoration of municipally registered heritage homes. Larger grants, up to $10,000 are delivered for façade restoration of commercial heritage spaces.
HRM is also endorsing a brick replacement project to replace and restore decaying and worn patches of pedestrian-trodden sidewalks in the downtown core. Through the adoption of heritage restoration initiatives, the City perpetuates, to the community, a valuation to historical preservation and character protection.
Halifax's urban design philosophy also features a central theme of environmental and landscape concern. Environment initiatives in the HRM have included the rehabilitation and greening of the Halifax Public Gardens, as well as an intensive keep-clean project for the City throughout the active summer tourist season.
Another environmental initiative, The Harbor Solutions Project, began at the end of 2003, and involves the construction of a new sewage system to divert sewage disposal from the Halifax Harbor into regional sewage treatment plants.
This year the Halifax Regional Municipality completed a foundational report on urban design. The Urban Design Project presents HRM with direction and guidelines on the appropriate integration of good urban design into the streetscapes and public spaces in the Halifax Capital District. The adoption of these guidelines will reinforce the notion, as stated by HRM's Urban Design Study, that urban design "is about more than making things look better, it will shape the future vitality and development of the Capital District for years to come."
Profile by: Katie Warfield (Creative City Network of Canada, 2005-2006).
- Designing a Space for Arts and Culture: The story of Quebec City's St. Roch Quarter
QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC
With a core focus on arts and culture and the subsequent strategic integration of economics and environmental initiatives, the St. Roch quarter serves as a model of Canadian urban renewal and cultural restoration.
The St. Roch quarter of Quebec City was once occupied by a brassiere and corset factory, a tannery, a sawmill, a brewery, a large department store, and stacks of red brick heritage buildings. These various-aged structures in the urban streetscape present a visual history of what the St. Roch quarter once was. Over the past 15 years, an urban renewal project has evolved the landscape of the St Roch quarter into a dynamic collage, producing innovation, trade, industry, and environmental sustainability from a firm foundation and fusion of the arts, culture, and education. The St. Roch quarter is an archetype of an urban village for the arts and culture.
In the eighteenth century, the St. Roch quarter was the cosmopolitan Upper Town of Quebec City. In the nineteenth century, the district developed into a bustling commercial centre. In the 1960s and into the 1970s, however, the effects of urban sprawl, large-scale development initiatives in other parts of the city, and the "paving" of the quarter by a large-scale transportation initiative resulted in the near desertification of the community by residents and commerce.
The first step in the renewal process was a redefinition of the goals and identity of the neighbourhood - and this identity, for St. Roch, was one that places arts, community, and culture first and foremost. In 1992, Quebec City adopted an urban renewal program for the St. Roch quarter called RevitalizAction. The initiative embraced the rich heritage of the space, and aimed to establish affordable housing, activate economic activity, and develop a "new urban lifestyle" accommodating and attracting arts and culture producers and exhibitors.
Integrating arts and culture into urban planning is a growing phenomenon in Canadian cities. More and more cities are beginning with cultural planning as the key to urban revitalization, addressing issues of arts, culture, and identity first, and retrofitting economic sustainability around an arts core.
In 1993, Quebec City adopted this approach, fusing the departments of Economic Development and City Planning and housing the new, merged department in the La Fabrique building, an old brassier and corset factory in the heart of the St. Roch quarter. Soon afterward, the City opened the Centre de production artistique et culturelle Alyne-Lebel in the district, which houses ten cultural organizations and employs over 100 people.
Social and Cultural Benefits
With a strong focus on education and key strategic cultural development initiatives, the St. Roch renewal project has created an arts and culture incubator. Early steps in the renewal of the quarter focused on the promotion of arts education and apprenticeship centres such as the School of Visual Arts of Laval University and the Arts and Crafts House, which clusters schools of ceramics, sculpture, textiles, and book binding.
The City used a range of incentives to encourage artists to live and work in the district. Development grants, tax credits, and financial help for first-time owners helped foster the creation of "artist spaces" for an artists' community. Housing initiatives merged community-making and economic sustainability through the construction of affordable housing complexes which were also artistic trade clusters. The Medusa Project, a housing co-op built in 1995, houses several producers and exhibitors and also provides space for visiting artists and the productive exchange of talent and ideas. Artist homes in St. Roch are both work and play. Zoning regulations were relaxed to permit malleable uses of the restored spaces. "Mixed-use" was a key term for the redevelopment of the St. Roch quarter, and was appropriate for the mixed trades, professions, and identities of the new artist community. Although the identity was to be a fluid one, steps were taken to promise the protection of artist living space. Development provisions permitted the residences to be bought and sold only to working artists to assure that artists would not be pushed out of the space as the economy of the district improved.
The lack of natural green and park space in an urban quarter such as St. Roch required "environmental sustainability" to take on a non-traditional definition. St. Roch adopted two approaches to naturalizing and environmentally restoring their cityscape. Between 1992 and 2000, Quebec City invested $31.7 million on greening projects in the St. Roch quarter such as Saint Roch garden, Victoria Park, and the Gare du Palais Garden. The second effort of naturalizing the quarter's cityscape was through public art projects which reclaimed the "paved" facades and surfaces of the surrounding urban frame. ZoneArt declared the pillars of an autoroute overpass a public canvas for al fresco murals and graffiti. Art also "went out on the streets" with the neighbourhood reclamation of a parking lot which was uprooted and then re-rooted into a thriving community vegetable garden.
The Present and Future
Since 1999, when the Province of Quebec announced policy guidelines for the promotion and development of new technologies, the "new economy" has began to make home in the St. Roch quarter. More recent immigrant organizations in the quarter include the National Institute of Scientific Research, the National School of Public Administration, the Centre for the Development of New Technologies, and the Quebec National Centre for New Technologies.
At the core of the renewal effort, according to Jena-Paul L'Allier, Mayor of the City of Quebec, was "harmony." With a core focus on arts and culture and the subsequent strategic integration of economics and environmental initiatives, the St. Roch quarter is achieving this harmony and serves as a model of Canadian urban renewal and cultural restoration.
Profile by: Katie Warfield (Creative City Network of Canada, 2005-2006).