RECOVER, Edmonton’s Urban Wellness Plan, is about working to improve wellness by testing ideas for strengthening communities through social innovation. One of those ideas has now come to fruition, through collaborative work to refresh and update the sidewalk space in front of Boyle Street Community Services Centre.
The first phase of RECOVER focuses on the five core neighbourhoods (Boyle Street, Central McDougall, Downtown, McCauley and Queen Mary Park) and the social, physical, economic conditions and decisions that impact them. There was a clear need for more coordinated efforts to address the impacts of initiatives in these downtown core communities.
As one of 13 potential solutions crafted out of community engagement and research, this is the first trial—dubbed “Project Welcome Mat”—of a small solution to improve urban wellness in the area. Many Boyle Street community members gather on this space, but felt it was lacking people-friendly features and greenery. Working in tandem with Boyle Street community members by co-designing the public space and transforming it together, the goal is to find out if these changes improve relationships both within and beyond Boyle Street Community Services.
Many of the features installed came from existing inventory of City assets. Two picnic tables were reused from the Imagine Jasper project, planters were borrowed through the McCauley Revitalization, bistro tables, chairs, adirondack chairs, umbrellas and umbrella stands, and giant LEGO were all repurposed from the CITYlab group in City Planning. The giant LEGO was made and remade into various pieces of temporary art during the course of the afternoon.
Artists from Boyle Street painted the sidewalk with colourful medicine wheels, feathers and bear paw prints. Community members helped with painting and arranging all the new furnishings. The Boyle Street Moving company, a social enterprise, delivered items from City storage facilities. Also to be included is a new prototype ashtray from Capital City Clean Up, which will help to keep the sidewalk free of cigarette butts.
When asked to share what they observed, Boyle Street staff couldn’t contain their excitement for the project. “Community members that are usually difficult to work with, prone to violence and misbehaviour, were actively engaged,” said Elliott Tanti, Communications Lead at Boyle Street.
Another staffer shared, “I actually saw community. They were sitting on chairs, gathered around tables. There were conversations. It humanized everyone. It was natural. Kids showed up instantly and you heard kids’ laughter. It was almost a playground atmosphere.”
More and more comments came in…
“It gave members a sense of purpose. They felt acknowledged.”
“It gave a different perspective on what this place is about. I could definitely see more of this. There was a sense of calm.”
“We’re all Edmontonians. How do we do this together?”
The work done in this phase has now culminated into an upcoming showcase of solutions. At this showcase, the RECOVER team wants to share learnings, experiences and provide an opportunity for the public to interact with and give immediate feedback on these co-designed solutions.
Register today and bring your vision to what urban wellness looks like for our city.
Date: Tuesday May 8, 2018
Time: 5:30-7:30pm (doors open at 5pm)
Location: Allard Hall, MacEwan University (11104 104 Avenue)