The Importance of Vibrant Public Spaces

Downtown St. Catharines Promendae

The Importance of Vibrant Public Spaces

“Cities are still the places that bring us together and provide space where people can meet, think up far-reaching ideas, start new businesses, and enjoy life and the experiences that take place every day.” Brooks Rainwater – Senior Executive and Director of the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Center for City Solutions

Moving into the post-pandemic world one of the biggest changes is that more and more people are choosing remote or hybrid work.  Fewer people are going to be in our downtown core and in other business districts across the city.  It is likely that it will be up to 5 years before occupancy levels will reach pre-pandemic times and possible that they never will.

What does that mean for our downtown? It means that commercial spaces will need to be re-imagined, service businesses will need to adapt and that decision makers working on long-range planning will need to shift their focus to ideas like the 15-minute city, with less car use and more bikes and walkers.  Our downtown and business areas have to give people a reason to visit and that means investing in our public and civic spaces.

City staff can work collaboratively with business owners to make streets safe for all ages and abilities, provide flexible public spaces to accomodate events, reduce traffic speeds to 30 km/h, add bike lanes and lock-ups and work with Business Improvement Areas to provide the supports needed for new and existing businesses.

The world has changed and as decision makers we MUST change with it. It is no longer acceptable or reasonable to say, “this is how we’ve always done it.”

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