A Walk In the City

By Gord Ball – Special to SUNonline/Orillia

Sustainable Orillia’s popular series of gentle walks around Orillia resumes this month on June 22 and 29. They are called, Jane Jacobs’ Walkable City, in memory of famed urbanist.

Jane Jacobs’ writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to building cities. Her best-known book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced ground-breaking ideas about how cities function and can evolve or fail.

David Stinson

Participants in each walk will explore a selected Orillia location. They will be walking in the company of professional planner David Stinson, who will point out examples of good and bad planning in Orillia, as well as their effect on everyday city life and its sustainability.

Walkers will learn and see the benefits of reducing car dependency, mixed development and densification.  The problems associated with contemporary development practise will also be highlighted, such as the lack of attainable housing construction and the suburban sprawl that negatively affects the area’s long-term prospects.

The first walk (2 km) is Saturday June 22 (10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), and will begin at the Port of Orillia Waterfront Centre. This walk in Orillia’s downtown will explore ways the changes being made to the waterfront could affect the immediate surroundings. Would Jane Jacobs have approved?

On Saturday, June 29 the walk (1 km at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.) will begin at the former YMCA (now Resolve Martial Art, 300 Peter Street North). This route has some up and downhill strolling. Walkers in this area will explore the changes in attainable housing design.

The effect of Jane Jacobs’ observation, activism and writing led to a planning blueprint for generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists. Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems with their own logic and dynamism, which change over time according to how they are used. With an eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization. She promoted higher density in cities, shorter blocks, local economies and mixed uses. Jacobs helped derail the car-centred approach to urban planning in both New York City and Toronto, invigorating neighborhood activism by stopping the expansion of expressways and roads.

She was a believer in the importance of local residents having input about how their neighborhoods develop. Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work and play, and to speak up.

Register online for one or both of these interesting, relevant and healthy walks. Registration is limited to twenty-five per walk – but we’re flexible and while there is no fee required to join these walks, donations to Sustainable Orillia are always appreciated.

Dates and times of more Sustainable Orillia Walks in September will be announced.

(Images Supplied) Main: Participants of Sustainable Orillia’s 2022 Urban Walk.


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