On January 23rd, municipal staff members, community partners, and 45 Peterborough residents braved the snow to attend an action plan gathering organized by GreenUP’s Sustainable Urban Neighbourhoods (SUN) program.
Together, they imagined ways to make the Kawartha Heights and East City-Curtis Creek neighbourhoods in Peterborough more sustainable, all while having a little fun too.
Activities at the gathering included a speed-drawing icebreaker where participants sketched out their neighbourhood visions, followed by a community mapping exercise to brainstorm ideas across multiple themes like active transportation, urban forests, and stormwater management. Each group also discussed the resources and strengths that exist in their communities to support their plans.
Participants explored dozens of ideas that would make their neighbourhoods more resilient to climate change, from green roofs and rain gardens to neighbourhood walking corridors and local environmental education programs.
The input generated at the gathering, and also from future events, will form the basis of an action plan for each of the neighbourhoods. Action plans will be released in the fall of 2019, and will identify actions that residents and other stakeholders can take to reach their environmental goals.
Why does the SUN program focus on only two Peterborough neighbourhoods?
“Neighbourhood planning allows for urban renewal solutions that are customized to respond directly to residents’ interests and priorities and local environmental conditions,” explains Adriana Gomez, senior program manager with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP).
SUN is modelled on and delivered in association withw the conservation authority’s SNAP program. In other words, plans that are tailored to the specific needs of a neighbourhood are more likely to resonate with the community than a one-size-fits-all approach.
In Peterborough, the Kawartha Heights and East City-Curtis Creek neighbourhoods each have unique features, many of which have been identified by the residents who live there. For example, participants at the action plan gathering quickly identified Curtis Creek as an important neighbourhood asset and opportunity for transformation in East City. As a result, this waterway, which snakes through the area, is likely to feature prominently in the neighbourhood action plan.
Another benefit of planning at the neighbourhood level is that it brings people together to share ideas, resources, and energy. It is easier to get involved when your friends and neighbours are tackling a local issue together. As Gomez points out, “Residents feel pride in working for their own community.”
Laurie Riley, a Kawartha Heights resident who attended the gathering, agrees.
“I encourage others to embrace their knowledge and learn how, as residents, we can be more aware of our individual properties and the many ways we impact the Peterborough environment as a whole.”
Also, changes at the neighbourhood level can impact the wider urban environment, which helps the municipality, conservation authority, and other stakeholders reach their long-term targets efficiently. Neighbourhood planning is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to building a city that is more resilient to climate change.
Planning is just one part of the SUN program, which is a three-year initiative funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation until the end of 2019. In addition to planning, SUN has installed 740 square metres of gardens and tree-planting projects across both neighbourhoods, with more to come this year.
These projects demonstrate actions that residents can take to transform their own properties in the future. They also provide more opportunities to engage with residents about the action pans.
Do you have ideas to share? Join the conversation! SUN is organizing additional community planning events in both neighbourhoods this March.
Don’t live in East City-Curtis Creek or Kawartha Heights? Check out NeighbourPLAN, another neighbourhood-based GreenUP initiative.
NeighbourPLAN supports residents in reimagining public spaces in three diverse Peterborough neighbourhoods, Jackson Park-Brookdale, Downtown Jackson Creek, and Talwood, using a collaborative process known as co-design. For more information on NeighbourPLAN, visit greenup.on.ca/program/neighbourplan/.
Residents in Downtown Jackson Creek are encouraged to attend NeighbourPLAN’s Resident Committee Meetings on the second Tuesday of every month from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Brooklawn Apartments. To learn more, contact Kortney Dunsby, NeighbourPLAN Coordinator, at email@example.com or 705-745-3238 ext. 206.