Activate Downtown Brampton

Project Objective

To attract residents to the city’s heart and create opportunities for social connection in underused public spaces through bold laneway installations, community programming, and live music that celebrates the City’s rich cultural diversity. 

Info / Share
  • Date: 2022
  • City: Brampton, ON, Canada
  • Partners: City of Brampton, Downtown Brampton BIA
  • Funding: This project is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.  

Activate Downtown Brampton was a series of interactive installations and activations in downtown Brampton’s laneways and public gathering spaces from May to October 2022. The project was a collaborative partnership between 8 80 Cities, the City of Brampton (City), and the Downtown Brampton Business Improvement Area (BIA). It was funded through the My Main Street Community Activator Program, a two-year $23.25-million investment by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) that is being delivered by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO). 

Through the Activate Downtown Brampton program, downtown Brampton was activated for 23 weeks. This included: 

  • 23 Saturdays of live music across four locations in downtown Brampton namely Daily Times Square, Garden Square, Main Street South Patio and Vivian Lane; 

  • The physical transformation of Vivian Lane, which included eight weeks of community programming in Vivian Lane; 

  • The Flavours & Vibes Party in Buffy Lane, and finally 

  • The Salsa Dance Party in McArter Lane. 

The goal of Activate Downtown Brampton was to attract residents to the city’s heart and create opportunities for social connection in underused public spaces. We engaged with the community through pop-up engagements, focus groups, one-on-one interviews and social media to understand what they would like to see and do in downtown Brampton. We also established a Project Steering Committee consisting of representatives of the Brampton community with representation from equity-deserving communities. The Committee’s role was to provide critical insights into the project from the community’s perspective while being advisors and amplifiers of the Activate Downtown Brampton project.  

We heard from the community that they wanted to do the following activities in downtown Brampton: 

  1. Fun and games for all 

  2. More shopping, pop-up shows, vendors and markets 

  3. Culturally diverse art and entertainment 

  4. Health and wellness activities 

  5. Community and learning opportunities 

To respond to these needs, we first transformed Vivian Lane to be playful, accessible, flexible and active on the edges. Local artist Abiola Idowu, along with more than 40 volunteers, helped us transform Vivian Lane into a bright, beautiful space with a ground mural. We then added flexible seating, tables, greenery, yarn bombing and sandboxes to make the space playful, accessible, flexible and active on the edges.  

When we asked the community to rate these various elements from ‘not important’ to ‘very important’, 87% of respondents said the ground mural was very important, 77% said the greenery was very important, 71% said the tables and chairs were important, and 55% said sandboxes were very important.  Over the weekend, we found that after the physical transformation of Vivian Lane, the number of people hanging out in Vivian Lane increased by 242%, and the number of people moving through Vivian Lane increased by 136%. The community also expressed feeling more comfortable, safer, social and playful in the space after the transformation.  

In terms of programming, we hosted and/or provided programming such as live music, Loose Parts Play, Tai Chi, yoga, children’s storytime by Brampton library, chess lessons for Black youth, art lessons, bingo sessions, wellness markets, sound baths, pop-up night markets, henna workshop, gratitude art activity,  improv night and poets open-mic night in Punjabi/Hindi, flat tire repair workshop by Bike Brampton and various learning opportunities by Alzheimer Society of Peel. The live music was one of the largest curations of live music ever in Brampton. In addition to this, there was also a Salsa Dance Party and a Flavours & Vibes events that were held as part of Activate Downtown Brampton.  

On the day of the Night Market, the total number of people moving through Vivian Lane on a single day increased by 82%, while the number of people moving through Vivian Lane in the evening during the time of the Night Market increased by 850%. 

Activate Downtown Brampton highlighted to us that: 

  • The community is looking for regular and reliable activities for all ages, shopping, pop-up markets, culturally diverse art and entertainment, health and wellness activities in downtown Brampton as well as opportunities to learn and contribute to the community. 

  • More people chose to hang out in Vivian Lane after the transformation. 

  • The transformation of Vivian Lane increased feelings of safety, comfort, socialness and playfulness. 

  • The most popular activations in Vivian Lane were the pop-up night market, live music and health and wellness activities.

  • Most residents would like to be informed of downtown events and would happily attend if notified. 

Thank you to all the collaborators, artists, community champions and the community of Brampton for making Activate Downtown Brampton a success!  

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