Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Windsor, Ontario

Windsor, isn’t that the city on the other side of the river from Detroit? Yes. And they have big plans!

“Longest Street Closing in Windsor History Proposed” – Windsor Star

Yesterday the City of Windsor’s Social Development, Health and Culture Standing Committee unanimously approved a motion to send a special report to City Council in January. That report was for the proposed Open Streets Windsor program and if approved by City Council we’ll see an Open Streets program in Windsor this coming summer.

8 80 Cities has been working with City of Windsor staff over the last few years to help develop this program and we’re excited to see the project into its next phase.

The proposed program is robust. It’s an 8km route running through several diverse business areas with two program dates, Sunday, July 17th and Sunday, September 18th, 2016. The time will be 9am to 1pm.

So why should you be playing attention?

1- The route will be connecting diverse areas to Windsor’s downtown – adding life to its quieter spots and more energy to already vibrant spaces. And with 8km of car-free streets there will be ample opportunity for participants to be physically active; physical activity being one of the key pillars of these programs. There will be room to walk and roll for everyone, without concern of squeezing Windsor’s population into a few blocks.

2- The program is being put on by the City of Windsor itself and has support from local health promotion staff, BIAs, and residents. In many cities, Open Streets programs are fledgling because their organization is not embedded within the local government. That often means that year to year, non-profits or charities hosting these programs are challenged to find the personal and financial capacity to put them on. This means they often have to resort to smaller and smaller programs (in route length and number of dates), thereby losing the essence of the programs, which is to encourage city exploration and movement. Having the City of Windsor as the lead on this project helps to ensure its viability in the future.

3- Last but not least, when Open Streets Windsor happens (we’re crossing our fingers and toes at 8 80 Cities that City Council will support the report), it will set the bar for what an Open Streets program can look like in Ontario and Canada. To date, the programs we see here vary from a few blocks to 6.5 km*. With an 8km route, two dates, and a whole City behind the project, Windsor has the opportunity to host the best Open Streets program in the country so far. How exciting is that?

So what’s it going to take to make Open Streets Windsor happen? You, Windsor.

Get behind it – These programs can be fantastic for any city and Windsor is no exception. Tell your elected officials and local government how much you want the opportunity to see and experience your city in a different way.

Volunteer – Many hours will go into making this program a success. Show your support by getting in touch with organizers and helping to make it happen.
Tell everyone you know – Spread the word about Open Streets Windsor. People of all ages and abilities can enjoy Open Streets. They’re free. They’re fun. And they’ll make your city a better place.

If you’re interested in planning an Open Streets program in your community check out our toolkit or give us a call. We’d be happy to help get you started.

*excluding the Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bikeways put on by the National Capital Commission which is a program similar to Open Streets but lacks critical components such as complementary programming and being accessible to participants beyond cyclists.

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