The latest Official Plan, Our Place, discusses in exhaustive detail all the aspects of urban planning for Innisfil. It discusses strategies for being socially, culturally, physically and digitally connected. Residential and commercial growth policies, employment areas, and sustainability are also examined in relation to the built environment. There is also a focus on Place Making for each of Innisfil’s constituent ‘settlement’ areas as way to bring this built environment to life:
“Place making is a collaborative process where we feel engaged in creating and sustaining public destinations. These are the places where we recreate, shop, eat, gather, interact, and most of all build the social and emotional ties that hold our community together. The principal goal of place making is to create places that a wide variety of people will use and enjoy throughout the year.”
This aspect seems to me to be the most inspiring and potentially the most important in determining the appeal and enjoyment of our urban spaces in the next decades. The Appendices discuss recommendations for each of our specific place making areas. I thought I would start by sharing some of the ideas for Cookstown, site of our designated Heritage Conservation District (Appendices, p 55):
- “Additional commercial uses on the ground floors would extend the commercial district and also provide opportunities for entrepreneurship …
- A small plaza at the main intersection of the village, in the vacant space next to Hambly Insurance, could host small-scale events, and offer seating options and table games.
- The Library is an important community anchor and the spaces surrounding it have the potential to become very active gathering places … Concerts, farmers markets, arts and crafts and food festivals could occur here during all seasons and create a destination for locals and visitors… On a daily basis, a small library café or daily food trucks would invite people to stay for lunch … Recreational activities such as a skate park or fitness amenities would draw youth …
- The area around the trailhead for the TransCanada Trail on Queens Street, west of the commercial district, could become a welcoming place for bike riders … An outdoor café with bike racks and an interactive playground, art and a playful seating area would invite bicyclists and pedestrians …”
This gives you a flavour of the types of Place Making suggestions made for several sites including the Town campus, Innisfil Beach Road and Park, Innisfil Heights, Lefroy-Belle Ewart and Sandy Cove.
The report itself cautions that, “The achievement of the strategies outlined in this Plan cannot be achieved by the Town on its own. We all have a part to play in creating Our Place. It will require a mix of empowered individuals, community groups, volunteers and stakeholders to implement them. For example, strong partnerships between the Town and local businesses are needed to help achieve these strategies in commercial areas.
Likewise, neighbourhood groups, and other environmental organizations will need to work with the Town to find innovative, fun and educational opportunities for activities in neighborhood parks, the waterfront and natural areas. Other groups that can also play an active role in programming and animating public spaces throughout the Town include local cultural organizations, the historical society, the library, and students.”
Plan to attend the Our Place Open House at the Town Hall on Wednesday, November 1, (5:00 to 7:00 pm) to learn more about the future direction of our Town – Our Place. A public meeting takes place the following week, November 8 at 6:30 pm.