Orillia launches Jane Jacobs Walk
By David J. Stinson
Transition Town Orillia, a local citizen’s group, hosted a Jane Jacobs walk during its monthly meeting May 9. Over 600 walks were held worldwide in 2012 in celebration of the life and work of Toronto urbanist, activist, and author Jane Jacobs. Famous for encouraging planners to be more observant of the communities they are creating, walks in her honour have been organized every year since her death in 2006.
The pre-walk presentation—Are Cities Good, Are Cities Sustainable?—talked about basic place-making principles: walkability, connectivity, mixed-use, quality architecture, diversity of housing, appropriately-scaled density, transit-supportive development, concentration of human activity to protect natural features and functions, etc. The discussion is was set in a context of sustainability, smart growth and healthy communities.
After participants walked the neighbourhood adjacent to Orillia’s downtown, exploring how well these principles were being applied. Viewing the public realm, they paid particular attention to recent additions to Orillia streetscapes such as a library, school and retail establishment. Participants discussed what they consider to be good about what they saw and how aspects might be improved.
Special thanks is due to Scott Weiler for his inspiration for the walk and help in laying out the route, to Alison Braun and John Pitts from the organizing committee for hosting the walk, and to Lori Hunter from the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit for supplying the “How walkable is your community?” pamphlets.
Several participants suggested that similar walks be continued throughout the summer months and that it become an annual event.
David J. Stinson MCIP, RPP, A.Ag., is the OPPI recognition representative for the Lakeland District and a partner at Incite Planning.