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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Events Guide: Jane’s Walk Halifax

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HALIFAX – Today and tomorrow ( May 7 and 8), Haligonians will take to the streets for a series of free urban neighbourhood tours that inspire citizens to get to know their city and each other by getting out and walking  for Jane’s Walk Halifax. Jane’s Walks’ are coordinated nationally and internationally in the spirit of Jane Jacobs – a highly regarded community, grassroots urban planner. 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961); this critically-aclaimed publication serves as an ongoing powerful critique of urban renewal policies. Jacobs went on to publish other books and to successfully protest major urban projects that endorsed urban sprawl.  Her community-centred vision started with the idea that local residents know best how to shape and improve their neighbourhoods. Foremost is her simple yet revolutionary idea that dense, mixed use neighborhoods are the key to the health and survival of a city. Decades later, her vision and approach has become a model for generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists.

Following Jane Jacobs’ influential visions on what makes cities great and how to advocate for their inherent community value, Jane’s Walk was developed to cultivate further a broad understanding of how cities – their economies, neighbourhoods, communities, and institutions – organically develop and thrive. The Walks also work to advance walkable neighbourhoods, to increase urban literacy and promote neighbourhood cohesion, civic engagement and leadership. Jane’s Walk Halifax coincides with more than 30 city walks across Canada and in more than 70 cities worldwide in celebration of Jane Jacobs’s birthday on May 4th.

Jane’s Walk Halifax includes a number of engaging walks in often overlooked areas of Halifax and Halifax Regional Municipality. On Saturday, May 7th, walks will start at 11am & 2pm. Janet Barlow, Active and Safe Routes Coordinator at the EAC, will begin Jane’s Walk Halifax with Walk to School in Clayton Park. Come and experience what it’s like to walk to school in Clayton Park in Halifax. What’s neat about this neighbourhood? What could be improved to make walking to school for local children safer, easier and more pleasant? Let’s explore and see what we can find. You just might be surprised! Meet at the Keeshen Goodman Public Library at 11am. Sophia Horwitz’s walk  Trekking on the Train Tracks at 2pm will follow, whereby she will guide an urban hike of the train tracks and discuss water access on the peninsula. Community development practitioner and project coordinator, Sophia has spearheaded transformation projects in Cuba, Honduras, Canada, Turkey, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Meet outside of Coburg Coffee at 2pm.

On Sunday, May 8th, 2011, Jayme Melrose, will host a walk exploring Underground Streams and Ruderal Ecologies at 11am at the Halifax Commons Fountain. Jayme Melrose is a garden doula and permaculture enthusiast. She received her degree from Dalhousie in Community Design and has spent a lot of time reading our landscapes. She is a charismatic leader and her passion will rub off on you. Guaranteed.  At 1pm, meeting initially at Julien’s Bakery (5517 Young Street) in the Hyrdostone Village, Kate Mackay of the Cities and Environment Unit will dish out Hydrostone knowledge and provide an interesting look into its history of public particpation (or lack thereof) in its establishment, for the walk – Hydrostone History. Jane’s Walk Halifax will conclude with North End Shortcuts at 4pm. Alison Creba, part-time City Mail letter carrier, will be leading a tour of North End Shortcuts. Creba is interested in the definition of the city – both in its cultural and physical constructs. She is curious about the hidden, personal and often unconsidered details that distinguish both the routes and places we visit. This final walk will start from the Good Food Emporium at 2179 Gottingen Street at 4pm.

Photo by Katie McKay