Walkable Ottawa's fall workshop sessions were a bold step forward in ongoing collaboration. Over 45 participants were divided into 7 groups based on interest or the type of neighbourhood they call home. Conversations were lively and insightful, covering a wide variety of topics that are critical to the success of walkable neighbourhoods. Four City Councilors were attended at least one of the groups, and shared ideas specific to their wards. Small business owners participated and expanded our understanding of the challenges for small business in future walkable neighborhoods. Residents shared the unique challenges they observe in their neighbourhoods. Thanks to all those who joined in!
"One challenge in this kind of consultation is to have a good strategy for drawing the group forward in the momentum of the growing body of work... pulling in new ideas while we build and refine the work of previous months."
The workshops were grounded in our collaboration and research to date. One challenge in this kind of consultation is to have a good strategy for drawing the group forward in the momentum of the growing body of work... pulling in new ideas while we build and refine the work of previous months. The Consultation Workbook has proved to be a great tool. It was available to participants before the workshops, and remains on our website, allowing ongoing input. Take a look, as we value all the feedback we can get.
"We learned that the kinds of redevelopment that would bring neighbourhoods to walkable density are a welcome addition to most neighbourhoods."
The Consultation Workbook is in the format of a Google form. It contains an outline of our work to date, allowing new collaborators to 'get up to speed'. But it's also a great way to get everyone's input and reflections as they move through the material. And it's been designed to be used sort of like a 'choose your own adventure'. There are lots of options for jumping around to the content that interests you most.
So what did we learn about Walkable Neighbourhoods? Where to begin...
We learned that some people already love living in their walkable neighbourhoods. And we learned about some of the little things that make those neighbourhoods function really well, like benches or low walls in just the right places to allow for a break along the way, or a friendly chat. We learned about the little things that are 'make or break' for some neighbourhoods, like being cut off from important destinations by a busy road with no crossings. We learned that the kinds of redevelopment that would bring neighbourhoods to walkable density are a welcome addition to most neighbourhoods, so long as tree canopy is valued, nurtured and grown.
"We learned about the little things that are 'make or break' for some neighbourhoods."
There were some disappointing surprises... We learned that some people who live in very unwalkable neighbourhoods have no idea that their neighbourhood could ever become walkable and place little or no value in a walkable future. We also heard from some people living in very unwalkable neighbourhoods who are feeling pretty frustrated. And we learned that the barriers to small business are significant, complicated and multi-layered.
Most significantly, we received the support and encouragement of such a wide variety of participants, who are willing and able to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the mechanics of walkable neighbourhoods.
When we first started working together as Walkable Ottawa, one experienced planner in town said "If you are able to collaborate with GOHBA, Ecology Ottawa, and Community Associations, you would be bringing together groups who are normally on the opposite sides of the table. Working together, you could usher in real change."
~Rosaline Hill (Walkable Ottawa)