May 16, 2006

Canadian Town Backs Pedestrian-Centered Revitalization

Drayton Valley, Alberta officials and business people are backing a downtown remake that includes "pedestrian friendly streets, storefronts that invite shoppers to come in to browse and buy and a downtown that invites community events while encouraging a family atmosphere," according to the Western Review.

The plan, developed by McGill University Professor Avi Friedman and a team of architecture students, "offers both short-term objectives such as improving sidewalks, fixing storefront facades and adding decorative touches like awnings, trees and benches and long-term goals such as the construction of a civic square, the addition of affordable housing units to replace the current trailers and working to make the entry corridor into town an inviting avenue to tempt highway travellers."

The proposal calls for changing a narrow street with angle parking into a street lined with paving stones allowing "little or no parking to make it pedestrian friendly and a metal and glass canopy structure running down the centre that would make the street appealing for events like farmers’ markets, outdoor art exhibitions and any number of community activities."

Interestingly, unlike many American suburban planners, Friedman and his team understand that while parking is critically important somewhere convenient and nearby, having your public spaces look and feel too much like a huge parking lot will negatively affect the ability of a commercial district to become a destination.

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