Public space can communicate a city’s values and priorities. By investing in the space, The City can encourage active living, community cohesion, and more.
To expand and invest in public spaces that work for everyone, a Better Budget includes the following policy asks:
- Introduce a free public urban Wi-Fi network in outdoor spaces and public buildings belonging to The City.
- Increase the tree canopy.
- Introduce two entirely public indoor urban agriculture (vertical farming) locations in neighbourhoods with limited access to fresh foods.
- Create a permanent memorial in honour of all the Indian Residential School Survivors and thousands of children who never returned home.
- Invest in traditional and contemporary Indigenous public art by funding a grant program for Indigenous artists.
- Fund new healing centres and spaces for ceremonial, cultural, and commemorative activities.
Public Urban Wi-Fi Network
Free public Wi-Fi, which has been introduced in cities such as Montreal and Vancouver, can attract tourists and residents to spend more time in public spaces and improve time spent on public transit. Public Wi-Fi is also a powerful tool for social inclusion as it allows marginalized Calgarians who might not have equal access to data or Wi-Fi to access essential information, resources, and opportunities.
Increasing the Tree Canopy
Heat islands can be a barrier to spending time outdoors in The City. Increasing the tree canopy is already a priority of The City but adding an equity and climate justice lens to the procedure requires additional planning from The City. Tree canopy increases should target neighbourhoods currently providing the least tree canopy coverage. Tree canopy coverage is associated with many positive outcomes, including shade, cleaner air, higher property values, and less damage to roads and buildings.
Investing in urban agriculture spaces increases access to local fresh food and engages citizens in producing and distributing food. Not only can urban agriculture result in cost savings for families, reduce the environmental impact of providing food in cities, and preserve knowledge, but once expanded it can offer meaningful employment opportunities and bridge gaps between urban and rural communities.
Public Art and Memorials
Investing in public art, particularly contemporary and traditional art done by Indigenous artists, increases Indigenous visibility in Calgary and beautifies shared areas. Similarly, the creation of a permanent memorial in honour of all the Indian Residential School Survivors and thousands of children who never returned home reaffirms the shared history of non-Indigenous Calgarians and the First Peoples of the region.
Introducing new healing centres and spaces for ceremonial, cultural, and commemorative activities further increases Indigenous visibility, empowers First Peoples to take space for healing, and creates space where the community can gather.
Taken together, these initiatives can make public space a more enjoyable experience overall.
These policy asks are based on input that came directly from over 5,000 Calgarians from every corner of the city through our Better Budget Survey and Community Consultations last spring. Vivic Research and Nick Falvo Consulting helped us compile your responses into a report that includes these and other recommendations.