Community Development and Urban Design
The Wagmatcook First Nation Housing Pilot Project rethinks the way housing is planned, designed, and built in first nation communities. Detailed design work is underway for an 8-unit elders housing complex with a community building, central green space, and community garden. Community members are driving the project from planning and design through to construction. The result is more than just housing, but an opportunity to build capacity and grow the local economy.
Expanding on the work completed by the community over the previous three years, this plan presents a design for improving the experience of the Ferry Dock Areas for residents and visitors alike. Through a series of public meetings with the local community, CEU identified five areas of intervention and designed a kit of parts composed of physical elements that could be built to address these areas. The plan was awarded the 2017 CIP Award for Excellence in Urban Design.
The Downtown Halifax Business Commission engaged CEU to revisit and re-imagine previous Argyle streetscape designs with more input from both stakeholders and the public. CEU established a storefront engagement operation on Argyle Street and carried out a robust engagement strategy resulting in an innovative shared street design concept. The concept was later adopted by Halifax Regional Municipality as the basis of design direction for the 2017 Argyle Shared Streetscape Project.
CEU facilitated a five month engagement, planning, and design process with the local community to develop a concept for land left vacant by the former Queen Elizabeth High School. Hundreds of community members were included in developing an idea - a large community garden in central Halifax – and successfully realizing their vision. In the years since, Common Roots Urban Farm has expanded and become a much-loved community fixture.
An innovative design workshop with the local school and Community Open House led to tangible strategic goals, specific actions, cost estimates, an implementation strategy, and design concept. The proposed design introduced consistent elements through landscaping and pedestrian-scaled lighting to create a cohesive identity for the Town of Berwick.
In Saint John, New Brunswick, CEU worked with ONE Change youth, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Centennial Elementary School, and community members to identify key issues, and strengths to build on. Created from a five-day planning charette, the plan helps guide decision making and remind the community of the action areas that they identified during the planning process.
The CEU met with the community and the District Economic Renewal Association to build on previous ideas, studies, and initiatives for New Waterford. The desire for art, recreation, and energy research drove the desire to enhance sustainable development and quality of life. The Project identified new opportunities, stirred the imagination and empowered the community.
The Green Shed served as a demonstration project for the Standing Buffalo Community Plan, completed in 2010. The intent was to show how one initiative could positively impact many areas in the community if developed using the right attitude and approach. Planned, designed, and built by the community, in collaboration with CEU, the Green Shed features innovative straw bale wall assembly as a construction method.
The Pow Wow Arbour project developed as a result of the Community Plan completed by Kinistin Salteaux Nation in 2009. The project helped advance community goals: strengthen traditions; use existing human resources (e.g., Elders) to pass along and practice culture and traditions; and celebrate culture. The project’s design is inspired by the stretched skin of a Pow Wow drum and the traditional structure of a teepee.
The Kahkewisthaw Community Market was a kick start project that came about from the Community Plan completed by the Kahkewistahaw First Nation in 2007. The project advanced the idea of economic development and created a place where people could come together to buy and sell local arts, crafts, baked good, and produce. It created a lively space for both market events and community gatherings. Like other projects facilitated by CEU, the development, design and construction of this project was community-based.
This project advances the idea of building and sharing knowledge, a key action area identified in the 2007 Shoal Lake community plan. The space created was flexible and provided a different and informal venue for learning, where members could come together to share ideas, celebrate and learn from one another. Design and construction of this project was a collective and participatory event, giving those involved a sense of ownership and pride.
The Bikeways Plan is intended to establish a cycling-supportive environment that attracts new riders of all ages and abilities, demonstrating a new priority for cycling within Halifax’s Urban Institutional District. The Bikeways Plan was developed through a community-based planning process engaging staff, students, visitors, and members of the surrounding community. The plans proposed network seeks to develop new and existing bicycle infrastructure, integrate cycling as an essential component of multi-modal transportation, and prioritize bicycles along designated cycling routes.
Cities & Environment Unit and Dr. Ahsan Habib were contracted by the Ecology Action Centre to explore options for public transit service in the Region of Queens Municipality. The final report includes an assessment of the need for transit in the Region, four possible models for providing transit service to residents, and a plan for delivering a pilot of the preferred public transit model. Residents developed a set of Guiding Principles for a regional transit system; they envisioned a transit system that is accessible for all - an investment that could enhance the quality of life in the Region of Queens.
In 2009, Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Cities and Environment Unit (CEU), Town of Annapolis Royal, Municipality of the District of Lunenburg and Town of Windsor partnered on the Municipalities for Green Mobility project. The goal of the project was to help these municipalities incorporate sustainable transportation into their Integrated Community Sustainability Plans. EAC and CEU held workshops in each community, and based on the results of the workshops, delivered a report to each municipality containing recommendations for council.
Community Development and Tourism
In partnership with the Federal University of Vicosa (Brazil), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and the Canadian International Development Agency, the Tourism and Community Development Case Studies Project explored the conditions necessary for tourism to be considered an appropriate strategy for community development in twenty communities (twelve in Brazil and eight in Canada). While promoting tourism may be the appropriate course of action for some communities, it may be inappropriate or premature for others.
The Approach component of the Tourism and Community Development project proposes a tool by which a community may measure its potential and appropriateness for tourism development and marketing. Impacts on local resources, effects on local residents and implications for local governments are all considered to be of primary importance.