. new park open house

An open house on the community developed concept for Beltline’s new park was held in October 2007.  Community residents and interested members of the public were invited to comment on the design and add their suggestions.  In total, 28 surveys were completed during the evening.

The majority of open house participants were residents of the Beltline.  88% lived within the community’s boundaries.

When asked what would attract them to use the park, participants offered a wide variety of responses.  12 respondents wanted greenery in the new park, including grass, flowers, trees and plants.  They envisioned “a relaxed, urban space with lots of trees, seating, and opportunities for people watching.”

An additional 12 respondents wanted comfortable, unique seating where they would want to spend time.  Other responses included public art, good pathways, room for sports activities, openness and variety.  Only one participant wanted the park to remain an open field.

 

Site of New Park 

 In the survey, participants were asked to comment on the overall community developed design of the park as well as its specific aspects.  Response to the design was overwhelmingly positive.  71.4% of participants had positive impressions of the overall design.  Only 10.7% said they did not like the design.  10.7% thought the design needed some improvement and 7.2% declined to answer the question.

When asked to comment of the various uses proposed in the park, answers were varied.  There was strong support for the garden, public art and the pathways.  Most also supported the re-designed bus shelter, play zone, central gathering place and the sports field though some suggestions for improvements were made in these areas.

Community Developed Concept

 The most well-liked use was the garden.  Of those who responded, 92% liked the idea of having some kind of green space or garden in the park.  As one participant wrote, “more garden area in the Beltline is always a good idea.”

There were suggestions that the garden be informal, so as to not mimic the formal gardens of Lougheed House and Central Memorial Park. Participants also noted that they favoured having some flowers and perennials to add colour during spring and summer.

The second most popular element of the park design was public art.  Of those who responded, 79.2% wanted some kind of public art in the park.  Only one open house participant did not want to see any public art.  Some participants noted that an interactive piece of art would be beneficial.  The only concern with public art in this space among open house participants was the cost.  They wanted to make sure that the art added would not be exorbitantly expensive.

The suggested pathways were favoured by 75% of respondents.  “These pathways would avoid unattractive desire lines that are created when there are no formalized diagonal access paths,” said one respondent.

It was suggested by many that the pathways be made beautiful by using interesting paving materials and colourful plants and flowers.  This was seen as beneficial for those sitting in the park as well as those walking through it.

Charette participants discuss pathways

Still popular, but less overwhelmingly so, were the re-designed bus stop, the play zone and the central gathering place.

Almost 61% liked the idea of re-designed bus shelter.  “Good idea.  Make people waiting feel as though they’re in the park,” stressed one participant.  Only 28% did not like this idea.  Some community members were worried that this would cause an increase in litter around the park.  It appears as though more support could be gathered for a re-designed bus shelter if adequate garbage receptacles are included in the design. 

Over 58% of open house participants liked the idea of a play zone within the park.  Almost 21% were neutral on this use and almost 21% did not want a play zone.  It was suggested by many that this area be “something other than a traditional playground.  Some sort of unique, interactive piece of art that kids and adults can climb on might be good.”

When asked to comment on the central gathering place, where the two paths meet, 56% favoured this use, 20.8% were neutral and 20.8% did not support this use.  Those who liked it stressed the importance of providing opportunities for social interaction – a place for friends to meet and chat.  Those who did not like it worried that it might attract skateboarders. 

Though many liked this use, it was suggested that it be moved to the periphery of the park.  “People like edges more than centres for people watching,” stated one participant.  Another added, “Seating should be sociable, facing each other.  I think it should be moved to the periphery to make the park a cohesive whole and encourage use.”

Open house participants were almost evenly split on the sports field.  Those supporting it noted that there are very few places in the Beltline that one could go and throw a Frisbee “A large, youthful Beltline population needs sports facilities.  This group is currently not well served.”  Those opposing this use worried about how it would fit with other uses in the park.

Overall, there was strong support for the community developed concept design.  While some uses were favoured over others, community members told us that what they truly desire is a mixed use park that can be used all year round.  As well, participants stressed that they wanted to make sure that this park was unique for the community and was not mimicking other parks in the Beltline.  Open house participants clearly saw the potential of this site and were truly excited about the idea of having the community lead the way in its design.