Doable Neighbourhood Project

St. Thomas

Project Objective

Our objective was to implement low-cost, high-impact pilot projects that contribute to North St. Thomas’ public space and active transportation networks. Collect ideas and develop resident support through an inclusive community engagement process.

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  • Date: 2014
  • City: St. Thomas, ON
  • Partner: Elgin Children’s Network
  • Funding provided by: Ontario Government

North St. Thomas is a residential neighbourhood adjacent to the Dalewood reservoir in St. Thomas, ON. This mixed – income community is home to two primary schools, an extensive trail network, a free disc golf course and one of the city’s largest green spaces, Waterworks Park. The North St. Thomas neighbourhood is rich in history and has the potential to become a healthy, vibrant and connected neighbourhood.

Step 1 – Engage the Community: Between March-September 2014, 8-80 Cities spoke to hundreds of residents and stakeholders in St. Thomas about the assets and barriers in regards to walking, cycling, and visiting the parks and public spaces in their neighbourhood. The engagement process included methods such as surveys, focus groups, structured workshops, interviews, and walking tours.

Step 2 – Identify Pilot Projects: After compiling and consolidating the data and ideas from local residents, 8-80 Cities worked with our local project partners to identify common themes and opportunities. These themes led to a timeline of prioritized pilot projects that were feasible and would maximize community benefits.

Step 3 – Implement Pilot Projects: 8-80 Cities supported community partners to navigate the municipal permissions system, engage and recruit local community champions and volunteers who would be integral to getting each project off the ground. In less than one year, the Elgin Children’s Network implemented two pilot projects.

North St. Thomas Wayfinding Signage: The Doable Neighbourhood Wayfinding Signage project help ‘humanise’ distance by showing walking times (rather than kilometres) to local destinations such as Waterworks Park, the local fishing spot, and the world-class disc golf course. A lively group of student volunteers from the primary schools installed more than 30 wayfinding signs throughout the neighbourhood in November 2014. This project was inspired by the Walk [Your] City initiative, which has taken place in cities and towns around the world.

North St. Thomas Ice Rink: North St Thomas’ first community ice rink opened in early February 2015 with a grand opening on Family Day. The new outdoor ice rink will help keep residents of North St Thomas active throughout the winter. Coordinated by the Elgin Children’s Network, constructed by resident volunteers with help from the local fire department and supported by $2,500 in local donations, the ice rink is a truly collaborative, community owned project.

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