November 01 2012

Playing for Greener Streets in Vancouver, Canada

By 2020 all residents of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will live within a five-minute walk of a park, greenway, or other green space. This goal may seem far-fetched but the creators of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP), along with community supporters, are finding interesting methods of making this dream a reality. The city’s Neighbourhood Greenways policy permits residential streets within Vancouver to be permanently closed to traffic and turned into green spaces that meet the needs of the local community and provide additional access to nature.

Vancouver Canada

The current neighbourhood greenways located in East Vancouver have been largely successful in creating community green space with little interruption to traffic patterns and residential life. Since the policy was created in 1995, however, only nine streets have been successfully converted to sustainable green spaces. Recognizing the value of this policy and bothered by the lack of knowledge about its existence, Julien Thomas, an undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University began brainstorming with others about how the policy could be better communicated to potential beneficiaries.

Vancouver Canada

In March 2011 their ideas became a reality as the Green Streets Game (GSG) was played for the first time with members of a local community association. Community members played GSG by using maps of their street as game boards to plan potential street transformation options as outlined in the Neighbourhood Greenways Policy. Players explored a multitude of perspectives through role-playing various community viewpoints. This collaborative “play-oriented” approach to environmental communication offers a valuable role for the community member in the future of urban planning and green activism.

GSG assists communities in developing their own neighbourhood greenways and acts as a bridge between policy-makers and community members. Through collaborative play, community members engage in the planning process in a creative and entertaining manner.

How do collaboration and creative play engage your local community in urban planning activism?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Courtney McLaughlin

Courtney McLaughlin holds an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. An avid traveler, her interests are public space modification in Canadian cities and sustainable urban planning. As an aspiring landscape architect, Courtney is particularly fascinated by the interplay of landscape architecture, public space, and urban power structures. During her time writing for The Grid, Courtney reported on urban developments in Vancouver, a city frequently named one of the world’s “most liveable” urban locations. Her blog posts explored how this title has been maintained through sustainable and accessible urban design decisions that pride themselves on community engagement.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2012 at 11:13 am and is filed under Environmental Design, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Social/Demographics, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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