The Downtown Vibrancy Project, led by the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA), is a collaboration that is breathing life back into several neglected areas of the downtown core.
The goal of this project is to demonstrate the potential for beautification in our downtown through citizen action and to create functional, valued, and ecologically friendly public gathering spaces. Each year, for the next three years, the Downtown Vibrancy Project will transform a site in downtown Peterborough with public feedback shaping our future projects.
“We are striving to take underused areas of the downtown to repurpose and transform them into vibrant, interactive, and lively public spaces,” explains Terry Guiel, executive director of the DBIA. “For a vibrant downtown, it is critical to create spaces that are attractive to visitors, residents, employees, and businesses, that also provide places to relax, interact with, and enjoy open space exhibits or entertainment.”
The GreenUP Depave Paradise program has partnered with the Downtown Vibrancy Project to help create this year’s vibrant vision. Depave Paradise is a national initiative of Green Communities Canada that encourages community groups, schools and businesses to transform neglected paved areas into healthy gardens. Depave Paradise demonstration projects encourage people to act together to make permanent positive changes in their neighbourhoods.
This will be GreenUP’s fourth Depave project in Peterborough. It will take place at the new Downtown Vibrancy Project site at the south end of Millennium Park, behind the No Frills parking lot. On Thursday, October 11th and Friday, October 12th, community volunteers will transform this unused section of Water Street located south of the No Frills entrance.
Previous Depave Paradise projects in Peterborough have all enjoyed success, receiving a great deal of interest from local residents, with the volunteer turn-out making light work of the asphalt removal. We are hoping to achieve the same success with the downtown project, as Peterborough’s largest Depave Paradise project yet.
At a staggering 787 square metres, it is almost four times larger than the next largest site, which is a beautiful rain garden that was planted in 2015 after the removal of 205 square metres of asphalt at the corner of Lansdowne Street and Brealey Drive.
Depave Paradise received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to conduct 36 depave projects by 2020. Peterborough is one of many communities across Canada delivering Depave Paradise to transform sites through community events that allow volunteers to pick up a pry bar or shovel and reclaim the soil in their community.
These transformations create resilient areas that offer real benefits for water quality.
“Green spaces filter polluted water into the ground, keeping contaminants away from our creeks, rivers, and lakes,” says Rose Bergeron from Green Communities Canada.
The Depave Paradise gardens are built with the urban water cycle in mind and help mitigate urban water run-off issues that are a result of the plethora of pavement and lack of green spaces typically found in cities. Once areas are transformed, these areas capture some of the urban run-off water and filter it naturally through the soil.
Depave Paradise has been successful across Canada since its inception in 2012 and continues to inspire projects across the country.
“Since 2012, Depave Paradise has removed nearly 5,000 square metres of pavement in 30 locations across Canada,” Bergeron explains. “This means close to 5,000 cubic meters of storm water and 873 kilograms of pollution are kept out of our waterways annually and these results are thanks to more than 8,500 work hours contributed by volunteers.”
In 2018, Depave Paradise projects are happening in Gatineau and Valleyfield, Quebec, Peterborough, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton, Ontario, and in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia.
“Let’s get dirty!” on October 11th and 12th. To sign up as a volunteer, or to get more information, visit greenup.on.ca/vibrancy. You can sign up as an individual or as a team of five to seven people. This is a great opportunity to get work colleagues and friends out to work together in a Depave Paradise team.
Envision the most vibrant downtown … what do you see? Want to get involved in future projects and have your say? Fill out our quick online survey and you are also welcome to phone or email us at 705-745-3238 ext. 200 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Downtown Vibrancy Project is supported by many wonderful, local partners, without whom this large initiative would not be possible. These include, but are not limited to, Basterfield & Associates Inc., LETT Architects, Three Sisters Natural Landscapes, Jackson Creek Press, Mortlock Construction, City of Peterborough, GreenUP, and the DBIA. The project welcomes new partners!