A Welcome Home Vision

Let’s build places that inspire happy returns.

Gracen Johnson
Apr 16, 2014 · 24 min read

Co-authored by Gracen Johnson & John McLaughlin

We recognize that this sort of conversation is not new. One could repave Route 8 with strategy documents and printed stacks of great ideas that have come before this, all with the goal to make a more prosperous New Brunswick. We are not naive enough to suggest that our message will come across as any different. However, this moment is different and perhaps you are different too.

Our message is that prosperity grows from walkable, urban places that are welcoming to all ages. Prosperity means places that foster the physical and social activity that leads to good health. Prosperity means a Welcome Home where people want and choose to live and do business. For that reason, development in the province needs to be driven and anchored by the desire to create better places first (see video below). Many of the most daunting challenges we face can be made more manageable simply by caring more about the quality of our cities. Furthermore, great walkable places lend themselves to productivity and social inclusion. They are a development tool in addition to a cost savings mechanism.

In this long discussion piece (you have been forewarned), we’ll explore what walkable urban places are and what makes them so important to cities everywhere. We’ll also share how we think this can fit into New Brunswick as a province and the cities within. Since we know Fredericton best, that will be our case study in terms of what the rollout of a Welcome Home Vision could look like on the ground.

A quick introduction to place.

Why are we writing this?

This is no time for complacency or defeatism. In this moment, real, massive, and predictable changes are underway. One of those changes is demographic and the source of much discussion and hand-wringing in political circles. By 2026 there will be a near doubling of the population aged 65+ in New Brunswick compared to 2006 levels. Whereas in 2006 seniors represented 14.7% of the population, in 2026 that portion will grow to over 25%. By 2030, there will be more dependents (people under the age of 14 or over 65) than the working age population.

Source: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/sd-ds/pdf/LTC/LongTermCareStrategy-e.pdf

We are choosing to see the demographic wave as an opportunity to be harnessed rather than a crisis to be feared.

In fact, this wave of older adults could be just the impetus we need to get serious about change in New Brunswick. And it’s clear that we really do need change. Without it, half of our provincial budget could soon be tied up in health care costs and there’s no reason to believe the economic challenges we face today will just go away either.

One notable aspect of the demographic wave is that our regional centres like Fredericton, Moncton, and Bathurst are experiencing the highest level of senior population growth. This is encouraging. Many older adults want to remain exactly where they are, others choose to move to a retirement community. For those undecided, we want to make the next step a clear one by creating a network of age-friendly, walkable urban places. These will not only facilitate more efficient care but help seniors to stay active, independent, and socially engaged for the longest time possible.

Many will have a difficult time conceptualizing a pending wave of seniors as a good thing. That skepticism is rooted in several myths about what it means to grow older based on particular lifestyles and cultural attitudes. For example, the most pervasive myth is that growing older means mental and physical deterioration. While wear and tear is something we all must face, the pace and extent to which health declines is largely a product of expectation and lifestyle. A long-term commitment to physical activity, eating well, social connection, and a sense of purpose can amount to healthful senior years. As we’ll detail later, the places we live can contribute to positive or negative outcomes by design. If one of the points below is lingering in your head as a challenge to this proposal, it’s likely not as great an impediment as you may fear.

Ritsatakis, 2008: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/98277/E91885.pdf

Finally, creating walkable places for older adults actually benefits everyone. Age-friendly means a child, a senior, a person with disabilities, or anyone in between can all feel comfortable navigating through the city and contributing to the community. If we consider our cities from the perspective of someone who perhaps cannot drive, manage stairs, rush across busy streets, or risk icy sidewalks, then we end up building more inclusive and accessible urban environments for everyone. The upside to age-friendliness cannot be understated when it comes to quality of place. Our neighbours of all ages can be a tremendous resource if they feel welcome, safe, and empowered in the community.

What do we mean by walkable urban places?

Well, a picture says a thousand words.

We need much more of this.

This was around 6pm on a Sunday night in Moncton. Most of Main Street was still open. Guitar filled the sidewalk as you walked by a café hosting open mic. Lots of people were out for a stroll, many with dogs, canes, or a stroller. Families were arriving downtown at 6pm, not leaving. They had come here just to linger, people watch, socialize, and explore the area on foot. This is a place where people want to be. This is a walkable urban place.

The problem is, while it’s clear that people enjoy this environment, we don’t have many walkable places to which they can move! The few havens we have can become expensive and exclusive. They have limited housing options for interested buyers and renters. We can do much better.

Let’s break walkable-urban-places down into the three component parts.


Walkability is a tricky thing to pin down. In a Fredericton context below you can see that it’s more than just physically being able to walk. For more discussion on this video, read the accompanying post on walkability.

Walkability is much more than distance.


When we say urban, we don’t mean somewhere in the metropolitan area of a city. For our purposes, urban connotes urbanity — enjoying the assets of city living that we find attractive. This means city centres and even former amalgamated village centres that still have the right ingredients to become centres of activity. It must be noted that a commitment to better cities does not come at the expense of rural communities. Rather the opposite, because thriving cities create more wealth and tax revenue to support service delivery everywhere. In this case, what is good for the city is good for the countryside and woods. Neither does our agenda exacerbate intercity competition. More accurately, it’s an attitude shift from outward solicitation to introspection. Cities would examine how they can become unique places where people and businesses would freely choose to be rather than trying to tempt with tax-cuts and freebies. Improving our cities is not about taking from others, whereas offering unfounded financial incentives to convince a company to move in takes from all of us.

We need a way for growth to be regenerative, not just consumptive and competitive. There are ways to grow in place. In place. That means increasing your wealth of experience, health, connection, creativity, equality, happiness, talent, ideas, etc. In place also means creating better places that we can all give to and enjoy.


We need to build places where people want to be.

Which brings us to the true competition we face in building better cities: place vs. space.

The biggest challenge is the inertia of a system geared toward sprawl. There are structural, socioeconomic, and cultural reasons why we have spent 50 years pushing growth outside of our urban cores. As a result, we have provided our houses, cars, and possessions with a lot of space to sprawl out. Increasingly though, people are understanding that with good public spaces, akin to outdoor living rooms, there is no need to have so much space for themselves. In fact in an urban setting, creating places where people want to linger, socialize, observe, and relax requires coming together, not spreading ourselves further apart.

Place is part of but different from space. Place is a unique and special location in space notable for the fact that the regular activities of human beings occur there. Moreover, because it is a site of such activities and all that they entail, place may furnish the basis of our sense of identity as human beings, as well as for our sense of community with others. In short, places are special sites in space where people live and work and where, therefore, they are likely to form intimate and enduring connections. — Pacione, 2009

Places are defined by human activity, not square footage, and they represent the best of city living. In New Brunswick, we need to create places in the hearts of our cities more appealing than the new house and two-car garage a 15 minute drive away. To be clear, people can live wherever they choose, but from a practical perspective we need to recognize that walkable urban places and car-dependent communities are not created equal. Indeed, governments everywhere are recognizing that walkable urban places can help advance their development agendas, whereas sprawling subdivisions can become a dangerous liability.

What is so great about walkable urban places?

Photo credit: http://vancouverisawesome.com/

To start, they make us happy. Author Charles Montgomery expertly compiles and connects the benefits of walkable urban places in his recent book, The Happy City: Transforming our Lives Through Urban Design. He provides a much more comprehensive explanation than we can cover here. You can hear tidbits in this CBC Tapestry interview, or read this interview.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s consider how walkable urban places can help advance the goals of virtually every department of the provincial government. It is not a catch-all answer, but a mindset that can help us achieve more as a province; one vision to bind them all.

The economics of walkable urban places

Whenever and wherever societies have flourished and prospered rather than stagnated and decayed, creative and workable cities have been at the core of the phenomenon. Decaying cities, declining economies, and mounting social troubles travel together. The combination is not coincidental. — Jane Jacobs

Consider the cost savings and wealth creation of developing walkable urban places. Since they are necessarily more dense than sprawl, there is the obvious benefit of more efficient service delivery (ex. policing, transit, snow removal, garbage collection). They are also cheaper from an infrastructure perspective. When a new drive-to subdivision or shopping centre is proposed to the city, councillors may jump to approve the project based on an assumption that it will create wealth for the city. Often, new drive-to developments do bring in money at the build stage; the problem comes when maintenance bills are due. The maintenance costs of new infrastructure liabilities on previously undeveloped land soon far outstrip the tax revenues from low density development. Sprawling, car-dependent development is “financially ruinous” in the long run.

Contrast that with a more traditional form of development. Recall that our old city centres were built at a time when you could not apply for a gigantic loan or government grant to expand. Every square foot of the historic city needed to provide a return on investment (public or private) or it would not be built. Consider our historic urban centres today. Hundreds of years later, through fire and flood, they remain the places we love and print on postcards. This is not a simple matter of architecture (there are contemporary buildings that we admire as well) — it is a matter of proportion.

The traditional model of development is human scaled, geared toward walkable urban places. This in turn creates wealth for the city in terms of tax revenue and social capital. Most importantly, it creates a wealth of excellent public spaces where people happily mingle, exchange ideas, and innovate. We need to demand the same long term return on investment from new development.

Chuck Marohn and the community at Strong Towns write and speak extensively on the economics of walkable urban places. You can read the companion manual and watch this Curbside Chat from a recent Vancouver visit.

Very much worth an hour of your time!

The social dividends of great places

Quality of place impacts social outcomes on many levels. Health in particular is both urgent and critical to New Brunswick. Like most of North America, New Brunswick is overwhelmed with chronic illness aggravated by inactivity and poor diet. This is the bane of the healthcare system. Social determinants (like poverty) and behaviour (like exercise) are by far the primary determinants of an individual’s health. Still, mounting evidence suggests that the built environment can effectively promote or deter physical activity. The most healthful built environments are walkable ones. They give people of all ages the freedom to go about their business without needing or wanting to drive a car to every appointment. In the best case, one can avoid buying a car or a second car, each of which would amount to savings the likes of $10,000/year. Income not spent on driving can then be invested in housing, better food, or the local economy instead. We have an extreme shortage of walkable environments in this province.

The environmental benefits of great places

Finally, environmentally we are a few major steps closer to sustainability if we reduce the amount of miles we drive and the amount of field and forest we turn into parking lots. Those who choose to live in a smaller dwelling in exchange for the amenities that great places provide are also greatly reducing their own consumption of resources.

For a fun and comprehensive overview of all these benefits, the short film Saga City (available in French and English) is an excellent depiction.

The Welcome Home Vision

What does all of this mean for the province? Walkable urban places are not just a good idea, but imperative if we want to tackle our economic shortfalls, health setbacks, and environmental aspirations. That’s why we are presenting a Welcome Home vision. We want New Brunswick’s cities to be a welcome home to relocating seniors, young people choosing to stay, Maritimers returning from abroad, and importantly, new people who see opportunity here. Welcome Home is about building places that inspire happy returns.

The Welcome Home vision puts an utmost importance on quality of place as an overarching code in every decision crossing the desks of policy makers, entrepreneurs, educators, and leaders of public opinion.

Welcome Home contends that we can create a world outside our front stoops as invigorating and inviting as the beautiful, natural New Brunswick outside our back doors.

Welcome Home recognizes that our built environment has a profound impact on our quality of life, affordability, and the choices we make every day. Our built environment needs to be walkable and age-friendly.

Finally, the Welcome Home vision is riding on the urgency and energy of a demographic wave. It is seizing this moment to catalyze the significant changes we’ve long known are needed.

When you focus on place, you do everything differently. — Project for Public Spaces

The vision we present is one supported by centuries of successful human settlement around the world. It’s not a vision to win an election or please interest groups, but to create an enthusiasm from peer to peer about where our efforts can have the highest positive return.

Places we love mean something. They hold our stories and reflect them back to us. And so we fix them, maintain them, recreate them, make them last. What a gift to each other and our children to ensure that we grow and protect places that are worthy of our admiration and return.

Where to begin?

What’s the game plan?

Places are unique. We cannot provide one blueprint for creating walkable urban places (although placemaking is a valuable community exercise, done locally). What we can do is experiment in our communities and compile some actionable recommendations for the provincial, municipal, and neighbourhood level. Again, Fredericton will be used as an example. There are plenty of inspiring examples of people already making headway and we hope to profile a few of them as well.

Think Lean

New Brunswick is so proud of its startup community, a group of people that often praise Lean Methodology. The idea behind Lean is to test a product or idea in the cheapest, fastest way possible and use that process to gather information and iterate. There is a nascent movement among movers and shakers of the urban development world to establish a Lean Urbanism which will:

devise tools so that community-building takes less time, reduces the resources required for compliance, and frustrates fewer well-intentioned entrepreneurs, by providing ways to work around onerous financial, bureaucratic, and regulatory processes. — leanurbanism.org

Lean Urbanism is inspired by the reality that today, rebuilding under-performing urban places is confusing, costly, and difficult. It’s confusing because urban dynamics are so complex that we cannot really predict how city improvement projects will play out in real life. It’s costly because urban redevelopment generally involves consulting fees, long bureaucratic processes, and expensive infrastructure. It’s difficult because urban places are created, animated, and maintained by many different stakeholders. We all benefit from excellent urban life, so who should pay directly for the investments that make that possible? Workarounds and inexpensive pilot projects are necessary if we want to harness the creative potential in our communities at a pace commensurate with our need for change.

What is Lean Urbanism?

Lean Urbanism is being defined every day as cities around the world are challenged with the same limits we face in New Brunswick. The tools of Lean Urbanism are being created at this moment. Architect Steve Mouzon offers a helpful compilation of Lean ideas, a few choice points of which are included below:

Lean is what people do when they realize that help definitely is not on the way.

Lean means less of clients hiring expensive experts to do things for them. On the other hand, lean means more of coaches helping people do more for themselves.

Lean means not needing to lawyer up to get the job done.

Lean means not needing gifts from governments to get the job done.

Lean means many things are possible at small scales that are impossible at large scales.

Enabling Lean Urbanism through Pink Zones

An emerging idea from Lean Urbanism is Pink Zones — areas of lightened red tape where the city would like to see some energy and regeneration. Pink Zones allow small-scale actors (i.e. regular people) to improve the area without needing to file stacks of paperwork. When people are given the freedom to be creative and resourceful, there is no telling what kind of improvements may emerge. For example, look what a difference community members made in this Build a Better Block project from Dallas.

Credit: Go Oak Cliff http://bettercities.net/images/14500/build-better-block

The transformation is a temporary solution that can act as a proof of concept for a more permanent makeover. Better Block opened up some empty storefronts to community activities and small retailers, narrowed the streets with some temporary installations like plants and lamp-posts, and painted a bit. With very little investment and time, they were able to demonstrate what changes could turn a barren street into a lively place where people choose to linger.

In some Pink Zones, improvements might mean setting up a food co-op where there is no grocery within walking distance. For some, it might mean growing that food on front lawns and parking lots. Neighbours may choose to set up natural traffic calming so their children can play more safely in the street. Maybe an improvement is retrofitting a few parking spaces into a an outdoor patio with lounge chairs and umbrellas, or building a small stage for weekly neighbourhood music nights.

A Halifax neighbourhood painted a mural in their intersection to create a friendly community plaza and public art that calms traffic. Photo credit: Halifax Regional Municipality

We believe Fredericton has some high-potential areas that are currently being neglected (see map below). Based on neighbourhood design, trail connectivity, and historical significance, these would make ideal Pink Zones where incremental urban improvements are welcomed and red tape is lightened.

Potential Pink Zones in Fredericton at York St. Station, Carleton St., and Old Devon Town Centre.

Letting democracy work

Another idea from Lean is that government’s responsibility is determining at which level decisions should be made, not necessarily making the decisions. Consider the example of backyard chickens. If your neighbours don’t mind you having chickens and they are the only ones affected, why does the whole city need to agree to give you permission? Whereas, if the whole city needs a recycling facility, the decision on where to put it should be made at the municipal level. People who live next to the proposed recycling site should not have the authority to overturn what the city has found to be the most sensible location.

Welcome Home suggests that governments review where regulatory processes are not taking place at the right level. Ensuring decisions are made by the people affected by them will help restore civic engagement across age groups and lead to fewer unsatisfactory results.

Work with the plan

Fredericton’s new City Centre Plan is excellent. Due to the nature of urban development, this ambitious vision will take decades to realize. The City can embrace a Lean approach to implement the plan incrementally and enjoy early successes in urban revitalization. One way to achieve this is to allow and fund pilot projects that will help us all understand how citizens will interact with changes to the city centre.

For example:

One aspect of the City Centre Plan is the creation of ‘districts’ such as the Capital District surrounding the Legislature, Beaverbrook Gallery, and Playhouse. While much of the city centre is commercial property, there is still a kind of neighbourhood pride exhibited by the residents of each district. The city could dedicate $1000 to each district for a grassroots branding campaign. Members of each district would decide how to spend their $1000 to define their part of the city centre.

Toronto uses special street signs for each neighbourhood. Photo licensed under Creative Commons by Xavier Snelgrove.

The City Centre Plan also designates Carlton Street as a main cultural corridor in the future where pedestrians, bikes, and cars can share the road more equitably. Carlton Street has many sites that are currently ugly asphalt and will likely remain undeveloped for a matter of years. These spaces would be far more financially and socially productive if they were dedicated to tactical urbanism (best defined by images) in the meantime. Hire a group of young people or Makers to temporarily test out what the space could become.

We have dozens more ideas on how the City Centre Plan could transform incrementally from words and images on paper into street-life that welcomes people of all ages.

“Pick your winners”

Author and urban planning consultant Jeff Speck uses a tool he calls urban triage to help determine where cities should focus their improvement efforts. Some areas of the city are built to succeed in a journey toward walkable urban places. They have the right bones — street structure, centrality, built heritage, infrastructure, etc. Focusing on those places is much more effective than spreading resources too thin and experiencing poor results everywhere.

On the south side, the town plat is best positioned for walkability retrofits. On the north side, the historic town centres of amalgamated communities have good bones as well (ex. Devon, Marysville).

The best examples [of tactical urbanism] are consistently found in compact towns and cities featuring an undervalued/underutilized supply of walkable urban fabric. — Tactical Urbanism Handbook Vol. 2

Providing more diverse, accessible, and affordable housing options in these areas should be a top priority. Remember that by eliminating the need to own a second car (or any car at all), households can spend more of their income on housing and in the local economy. Therefore creating walkable environments is essential to making Fredericton a Welcome Home across income levels.

Recenter local food in the city

Modern cities could not exist without agriculture, as a stable food supply was the precursor to their development. Recently, the stability of the global food system and its consequences on the welfare of people and ecological systems has become a growing concern. This leaves cities vulnerable to shocks in their food supply. We should be interested in developing diverse local food systems that can bolster resilience. At the same time, research indicates that reconnecting cities to food stimulates a myriad of environmental and social benefits such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions and building community cohesion.


We must reaffirm the role of food (growing, eating, buying, selling) in the creation of great places. Shared garden space can promote social connection and an opportunity for intergenerational learning. Eating is one of the best social activities a city can offer. Buying and selling food is a ritual as old as markets themselves, and one that keeps people returning to central places. Furthermore, a study from Farmers’ Markets of Canada found that in addition to the average $32 spent per shopper visit at farmers’ markets, those people go on to spend an average $18 in businesses around the market.

New Brunswick has some fantastic farmers’ markets that are much beloved by the community. However, urban food can play an even bigger role. Consider, for example, Local by Atta in Moncton which is growing fresh greens year-round in a disused building. Then there are the successful food trucks that move downtown for the Harvest Jazz & Blues fest, but are usually locked out of such prime locations where they can quickly turn pavement into plazas full of activity.

Lean means that a food truck that feeds a few dozen people a day shouldn’t be regulated like an egg factory that produces 80% of the eggs eaten in the USA. — Steve Mouzon

There are reasonable fears about food which lead to strict regulation. However, regulations designed for industrial agribusiness and large restaurant chains should not have to squash the attempts of small players in the food system who provide a world of good.

For example, the Fredericton Exhibition would like to see a community garden at the corner of Smythe & Saunders, and Community Harvest Gardens is on board. This is a great idea that should not be shut down out of fears around agricultural land uses. It’s a community garden, not a feedlot!

Embracing food and celebrating food rather than fearing food is a great step to help diverse communities get their hands dirty with placemaking.

Put Affordable Housing “In Our Backyards”

Granny flats, also known as in-law suites or accessory dwelling units could be a game-changer to provide diverse housing in key areas like the town plat. For the unfamiliar, a granny flat is an extra housing unit, be it basement, driveway, loft, or garage added to an existing property (here are some beautiful examples). It would seem like pure logic to promote granny flats. Assuming it’s actually your granny or parents or child living in the granny flat, there is a level of social safety net built in there. Multiple generations can live happily on one property and take care of each other without feeling invasive. Is there any better way to age in place?

A design for a co-housing community in Portland. See more: http://www.orangesplot.net/sabin-green/

Even if not related to the dweller of a granny flat, these are a gentle, incremental way of adding density to a neighbourhood. They can provide the critical mass to justify urban amenities like a corner store or more bus stops. They are dignified small quarters, and mesh well with our cultural preference for home-ownership.

Finally, with demographic changes and the shift toward 1-2 person households, there is growing demand for smaller-sized housing units. Vancouver has capitalized on overwhelming market demand by legalizing laneway homes. As a result, new developers have sprung up working specifically in laneway construction. Fredericton could provide business opportunities for small housing developers as well with more permissive zoning around granny flats.

There are certainly areas in the city where granny flats would not be appropriate, so why not let each block of the city decide for themselves?

With more granny flats, property owners could gain a way to keep multi-generational families together. Or they could split their property tax with a small house dweller. Finally more people could afford to build or buy a small house in an existing walkable location rather than being forced into car-dependent neighbourhoods on the fringe.

Lean means that a tiny house inhabitable by one person shouldn’t be regulated like a building inhabited by thousands. — Steve Mouzon

As a fairly quick, decentralized way to balance housing demand and boost supply of affordable housing, we should legalize and normalize more granny flats.

One way to do that would be organizing a high-profile granny flat development project, wherein a local developer and architect would team up to build an example project which would be filmed, tracked, and celebrated by local media.

Lean thinking can carry us a long way, quicker, lighter, and cheaper. These are just a few Lean ideas that can help shift our mindsets. We have lots more that we are eager to explore, but that requires support and involvement from everyone.

How to help

We believe these changes are imperative, but in no way does that make them inevitable. The Welcome Home vision requires several forms of leadership and, honestly, opportunism to be successful.

  • We’ll need leadership in the form of visionaries and cheerleaders, people that are committed to this transition and can carry public opinion along with them.
  • We will need business and social entrepreneurship — people who are inspired to make a buck off of the demographic wave and walkable development. Anything from building seniors’ bicycles to granny-flat development could be in high demand.
  • We’ll need an institutional framework to enable these changes not just in Fredericton by community organizers, but across the province. We need a common mantra across our hospitals, universities, governments and organizations that walkable urban places will help them meet their own missions.

Perhaps you can help satisfy some of these needs. Check out our list of action items to see where you might play a role.

Specific Action Items

In the Neighbourhood

Any attempt to build sense of place needs to come from the local experts — the people who actually live and work there. As citizens there are endless opportunities for us to roll up our sleeves and make our streets, blocks, and cities better places to live.

  • Check out the placemaking and tactical urbanism resources in the Appendix (scroll way down).
  • Host a Block Party. Let’s get to know our neighbours and talk about what we could improve on our blocks together with mostly just elbow grease.
  • Watch Saga City with your friends/family. Send it to your city councillor as well.
  • Get involved in a local Makerspace that can become a hotbed of great ideas and actions for community improvement.
  • Just do it. Find some inspiration on how to improve your frequented places in town? Go for it.

Municipal (Fredericton in this case)

  • Host a Boot Camp for City Council and other local leaders to get a full briefing on placemaking, financially productive growth, and changing our development pattern.
We could sure use one of these…
  • Undertake a study and visualization of the long term costs and returns (private and public) of different kinds of development in town.
  • Undertake an analysis of sidewalk clearing in the winter. Seniors repeatedly report this as an issue of great importance and other cities have found it economical to heat their sidewalks. The city should explore further options to make a walkable winter.
  • Trial three projects that fit into the new City Centre Plan, but can be tested in a light, cheap, and quick way.
  • Take parking minimums and make them parking maximums.
  • Designate an official “Block Party Weekend” when block parties across the city are encouraged to take place. Market it as a festival.
  • Establish Pink Zones where you would like to see communities have more freedom to develop creatively.
  • Let the community know that they are encouraged to participate in placemaking. Explain that they will not be punished for grassroots efforts to improve streets, parks, and plazas.
  • Start a neighbourhood matching fund to help neighbours double their funding for projects that will benefit the public.


We need to the whole province to understand the value of walkable urban places and enable their creation. A few recommendations to that effect:

  • Departments across government need to be singing to the same tune here. A cross-departmental dialogue, hosted by NB Health and Environment and Local Government would be a great start to brief all departments on how they can contribute to and benefit from walkable urban places.
  • The government can honour and build on their commitment to update the Municipalities Act and the Community Planning Act. This should be done swiftly and needs to include provisions for design discretion. This is not to dictate the look of buildings, but to ensure that new developments add to rather than damage public spaces. Cities should have the ability to establish and enforce form-based-codes. Cities also need the ability to form design authorities to which developers must defer.
  • The Telegraph-Journal could create a regular column that highlights success stories of placemaking in various communities.
  • Passing the tabled legislation which would give pharmacists more power to prescribe medication could recenter the pharmacy in lively urban places. Joining provinces like Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan in this logical policy would also ease the congestion of hospital emergency rooms. Citizens without a family doctor often find themselves waiting in ER in order obtain or refill simple prescriptions that a pharmacist is more than capable of handling. Were pharmacists given more power to prescribe simple diagnoses, local pharmacies could become a friendly and convenient first gate of a more efficient healthcare system.


This video (made in Québec) animates nearly all of the ideas discussed above. It is extraordinarily well done and backed by an impressive amount of research. Please do what you can to ensure that your city councillor watches this.


Sometimes we need to jump together to create the desired effect. In Oakland, there were a number of vacant storefronts and a shortage of retail. A group of independent retailers decided to open-shop on the same block together at the same time. The landlords offered six months of free rent to invite new tenants, and you can see the results below.


The Tactical Urbanism Handbook

This handbook shares examples and the landscape of quick urban installations that change the way we see our cities. Why is Tactical Urbanism so practical for our needs in Fredericton?

Tactical Urbanism handbook available at: http://issuu.com/streetplanscollaborative/docs/tactical_urbanism_vol_2_final

“First, a benefit of the recession is that it slowed the North American growth machine. This effectively forced citizens, city departments, and developers to take matters into their own hands, get creative with project funding, and concentrate on smaller, more incremental efforts.

This has occurred while more and more people—especially the young and well educated—have continued to move into once forlorn walkable neighborhoods. This cohort includes retirees, who are also interested in re-making their chosen neighborhoods. Interestingly, some of these young people are also mov- ing into government leadership positions as the baby boomers retire.

Finally, the culture of sharing tactics online has grown tremendously and is becoming more sophisticated. Thanks to web-based tools, a blogger can share something tactical in Dallas and have it re-blogged, tweeted, facebooked etc. in dozens of cities within minutes.”

On Placemaking

On Walkability

Read Walkable City. It’s a wonderful overview of what you need to know.


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