Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wasted Opportunity

It was a beautiful, sunny weekend, and very little went on in our new public square. Saturday at 3 PM there was a rally protesting two women being asked not to kiss in a local restaurant - and that was it. I took this picture today (Sunday) at about 12:40; there was supposed to be skateboard classes from 11-1 but as you can see, it didn't happen. I went back about three hours later and there were some more skate boarders, plus a few people wandering around looking glum.

I'm not blaming the city - the square is new and they have a limited budget to program it. But this square needs more programming. It's not like a park where people can relax and enjoy the view. We built an expanse of white concrete that requires programming.

We could set up a citizen's committee to help program the square. In addition, organizations such as universities, schools, corporations, arts groups, sports clubs and civic groups could propose events. The Waterloo Public Square provides a lot of opportunities for Waterlooians - let's take initiative.

(link to programming info)

Update: As it happened, three weeks later on a Sunday at 12:45 I happened by Nathan Philips Square in Toronto. It was much worse!



Anonymous said...

Hi there
Waterloo Public Square programmer here.

I appreciate your interest in the square. You are right, it is a shame to see it go unused some times and you are also right, we are doing the best with what we have and are learning as we go.

This time last year the square wasn't even open, so every day for the next month and a half is a brand new discovery in the Square.

Last year there was still snow on the ground until April 4th, and the weather was iffy until the last week in April. It takes time to program events in the Square, and Months like March, April and November are incredibly difficult to program because you have no idea if it will rain, snow, be sunny or windy. It even snowed a little bit last week right, should I have programmed a winter event or a summer event?

If you are sincerely interested in starting a citizens programming advisory committee, or even starting a dialogue with me about your ideas and suggestions, I would be very interested in talking to you. Feedback from the public is how we know if we are doing a good job, or if there is something else we can do that will work even better.

In regards to the Skateboard program you had spoken of. My Programming Associate was on site and actually in your photo. She was there waiting for skate boarders to show up. Maybe we need some better marketing, but it was only the second week of this skateboard schedule. the word will get out soon.

Have a great day!

Ferd said...

This is for Tracy: I think one of Yappa's points, by implication at least, is that a bit more outreach on your part might be useful [rather than or perhaps in addition to 'marketing', or waiting for the word to get out]. That might involve expanding your job description there a tad, but I doubt anyone in city hall would object and you might find aggressively going out into the community rewarding.

Yappa said...

Hi Tracy,

Thanks for writing! Actually my intention was to support your efforts by calling on other people to get involved - and Ferd's right that public outreach would help in getting that going.

Ideally, the square will be programmed year-round. I don't have all the answers, but I'm sure there are solutions to handling iffy weather months.

As to the programming committee, I'm on the Uptown Vision Committee and it's something we've been discussing for a couple of years, championed by John Shortreed. (You came and talked to us about the square last year.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you both for your responses. I don't really know what you mean by more "public outreach"; that can be any number of things and is also something I had thought I was already doing. I would love to hear more about your thoughts on the matter.

I am always trying to get better at what I do, and if you can think of specific ways, I am all ears.


Anonymous said...

The problem I've seen with 'public outreach' in much of canada is that people feel NO levels of government actually listen to them.

As for skateboarding, Waterloo has a poor record here, I can remember kids used to skate by the Clay and Glass Gallery, then the city closed it down, said they were going to have a 'mobile' park, which was never seen. Today, most kids take it for granted that their skateboarding is not welcome. Once that changes, particularly if people start hanging around to watch, then we'll see more activity.

As for 'programming' the square, its always good to get people involved rather than complaining from the sidelines. I tend to think the entire area is a complete eyesore, there's a reason why people go to PARKS. There is simply nothing of interest in this square and without 'natural' views, you need artificial ones-LOTS of them.

At many parks worldwide the standby is having chess tables. In a famous park in Geneva they have a couple of three foot chess pieces for huge boards. The park is also a political hotspot where signs, much like store signs, are displayed for the many, many political parties and referenda questions.

The problem is, most people have ideas such as that, but feel there is a big bureacracy of politicians who have a predetermined set of ideas of what they want to see, meaning, ideas are a waste of time.