— Jonathan Cote (@jonathanxcote) June 3, 2015
If I didn’t know how long it takes to get things done at City Hall, I’d think the Mayor of New Westminster must be reading my blog.
The first of five parklets planned for the city over the next five years, the East Columbia parklet is expected to be finished this summer. The City’s goal is to create one new parklet per year over the next five years.
New West blogger Brad Cavanagh revealed he actually watches council meetings, beating me to the punch on his blog with a pretty great summary of what a parklet is, and what the City’s plans in this direction are:
For those who don’t know, a parklet is a mini park set up as an extension of a sidewalk. They’re not very large, typically fifteen to twenty meters long, and about three meters wide. They’re places for people, set up to allow people to meet, sit, and relax. Vancouver has five parklets, and they’ve been big hits almost everywhere they’ve been put in.
Yep, those are the very same kinds of public spaces I raved about after coming home from NYC: little enclaves of social civility and peace amid the hustle and bustle of sidewalks and streets.
Coming upon a parklet introduces a wee frisson of joy during a walk through a city. But it isn’t just a feel-good move. It’s actually a savvy economic development move. Cavanagh’s post shares links to studies in other cities that found adjacent businesses typically see between 9-20% more business following the installation of a parklet. Good news for Fratelli, Bloom Bloom Room, Sushi Heaven and the other businesses at that end of East Columbia!
But what about parking? As Sapperton resident Jen Arbo put it, the boon to businesses will far outweigh the loss of a couple of parking spots.
— Jen Arbo (@jenarbo) June 3, 2015
Councillor Patrick Johnstone also wrote about the parklet in a council meeting summary post on his blog:
Parklets are great ideas, and they can really improve the pedestrian and retail space in a commercial district. The City is piloting our first Parklet this summer in Sapperton, with plans to introduce another annually (at least) for the next couple of years. Staff has been given a modest budget, but a lot of flexibility to find partnership opportunities, design ideas, or creative innovations to make the Parklets fit local needs in our different neighbourhoods. I was really happy Council endorsed this program, and that staff is not only excited to implement it but have provided a really nice design for New West Parklet #1.
The initial reaction from both businesses and residents was pretty positive on Twitter:
@jonathanxcote parents will love this, while their kids are at dance. We can't wait to see it!
— Kids In Motion (@KIMDanceStudio) June 3, 2015
— Gye Incognito (@gye_incognito) June 3, 2015
But not everyone was pleased. The announcement irked at least one Quaysider, where gardening budgets have been cut back:
.@jonathanxcote Quay gardens suffering because request for needed $$ in budget was denied. Now there is more need for parklet gardeners. ??
— Kay Johnson (@noteworthi) June 3, 2015
What can I say? New West loves its greenspace. Note to council: Don’t mess with our parks.