Celebrating neighbourhoods is the goal of the annual Jane’s Walks happening across Canada. With local mayors participating, a productive dialogue between citizens and government is one of the outcomes, as residents explore their city’s walkability.
Behind New Westminster City Hall residents are gathering for a very special guided tour.
The Book That Inspired a Thousand Walks
“Today we are doing one of 16 Jane’s Walks in New Westminster and walks that will be happening across Metro Vancouver really to celebrate our neighbourhoods and walkability and really as a goal of making our communities more walkable,” explains mayor Jonathan Cote.
“I’m sure everyone has a book that kind of inspired them and maybe sent them on a different direction in their life and this is probably one of two or 3 books that did that for me and this is Jane Jacob’s famous book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.”
Jane Jacobs was a journalist and author who believed in community approaches to urban planning. She passed away in 2006 but we spoke with Jane Jacobs in 2002, when she had this to say, “The only way that the senior governments can try to address all this diversity and yet micromanage it, is they try to standardize things, one size fits all. This is a recipe for stultifying settlements.”
“I think that Jane’s walks are essentially a conduit to create a voice for people,” says Cote. “To talk about the issues and subjects that are important and issues and subjects that matter to them they could potentially take some of those topics and take them to the civic level to start to facilitate and create some change.”
Public Art and Creativity Inspires Walkers in Burnaby
Mayor Derek Corrigan also led a Jane’s walk focusing on public art in Burnaby.
“So we are calling on the creativity of our community to suggest what we can do here in permanent art features, how we can change the ambiance of this area,” says Corrigan. “How we can utilize the public art that’s being put in by developers to create situations where we have transitory art, where we have opportunities for people to be engaged in art.”
Mayor Greg Moore in the city of Port Coquitlam and Mayor Jack Froese from the Township of Langley also led Jane’s walks. “Just discussing some of the things that are in your community that are right next door is what a Jane’s walk is all about,” says Froese. “It’s advocating for a healthy lifestyle, it’s advocating for getting to know your community and getting to know your neighbours.”
Jane’s Walk Gets Strong Interest across Metro Vancouver
With over 30 different walks occurring across the region, it is clear that there is a strong appetite for community engagement in Metro Vancouver.
“I am very happy with the walk certainly the weather cooperated, it was a beautiful day and a lot of great great discussion,” says Froese. “I think Jane’s Walk is about unique community leaders and people of all walks of life really coming together and sharing and showcasing their neighbourhoods.”
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