The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Over 2,000 individuals participate in Bow to Bluff project

thumb sunnysideLRTThe transit corridor running through the Hillhurst-Sunnyside is buzzing with activity — the most recent event being the demolition of a warehouse to make room for the various upgrades that will be coming to the area.

Improvements to pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, and changes to the LRT station are just some of the things that inspired citizens to get involved in the planning of their community.

Bow to Bluff — an independent citizen-engagement project — was planned last spring to give people a voice during the planning process of the corridor.

CommConnectDave White, chair of community planning committee and director of the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association board says, "Bow to Bluff was a cool project because we had a storefront called the storefront engagement. It was interactive, and we encouraged people to come off the street to give us their feedback.

"We put big sounding boards up inside the corridor, plastered against the LRT right-of-way and it became a big sticky note wall. There were sticky notes everywhere," White adds.

"Citizens were able to talk about changes comfortably by voicing what was working, what was broken, what was safe, and to express their big ideas in terms of making the corridor better," White says.

City support

Tamara Lee, Bow to Bluff communications chair and Sunnyside resident, says they were fortunate to have other people supporting them with funding from city administration and the Ward 7 office.

"It worked because the city wasn't trying to patrol or control," Lee says.sunnysideLRTBow to Bluff was a civic engagement project that  helped Hillhurst-Sunnyside to develop its transit corridor.
Photo by: Roxana Secara

Druh Farrell, alderman for Ward 7, says "they captured the attention of citizens through civic engagements and the creativity that was generated from the experience was remarkable."

Farrell says the project became a magnet for many positive ideas, and went above and beyond what was expected.

Because people wanted to be heard, and this was an independently-led citizen initiative, Lee says it really worked.

"We had no agenda other than to improve the corridor," Lee says. "We took the city by the hand, and the citizens by the hand to work toward this goal and to act as a facilitator."

Youth engaged

Lee says having the conversation with citizens during the planning stage was a really big factor to their success. She says it's important to know that any citizen can make a difference — in the end it does make the world a little better.

"There was one boy about 10 or 11 who gave us some of the best input — free Wi-Fi in public parks — and this gave youth a chance to be heard as well," Lee says.

Because Bow to Bluff was a pilot project, Lee says the city took a chance, but the engagement was more or less common sense and not rocket science.

"Calgary is really starting to grow into itself. Now is the time to do something in your community," Lee says.

"Bow to Bluff will keep the conversation going."

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