Community Planning

Winter Cities Shake-Up Presentation – Alternative Approaches to Fostering a Winter City in Smaller Communities

Urban-Systems-wintercitiesshakeuppostChad Carlstrom and Dan Penner are no strangers to living in a winter city. Both are from the balmy confines of our Fort St. John office where the winter average daily high temperature is -4°C. They will both be attending the upcoming Winter Cities Shake-Up in Edmonton Alberta in February and will be giving their unique perspective on winter city living in a smaller community.

Presentation Abstract
In 2000, the City of Fort St. John took an initial step towards creating a more climate responsive and winter friendly community by developing its Winter City Design Guidelines. The guidelines serve as a blueprint for creating a livable winter city by establishing a number of design related principles. Difficulty integrating the guidelines into the City’s day-to-day long term operations, planning and development processes coupled with the emergence of new civic priorities over the following years weakened the momentum of Fort St. John’s initial winter city movement.

Fort St. John has recently experienced renewed enthusiasm for becoming a more winter friendly city, largely driven by local officials, staff and partnering consultants who attended the 2015 Winter Cities Shakeup conference. The City of Fort St. John approached Urban Systems to assist in the development of a comprehensive winter strategy and update to the existing Winter City Design Guidelines, with the objective of making Fort St. John a more winter friendly community. After examining community conditions, perceptions and awareness levels, it was determined that a different approach would be better suited in the long-term to achieving the overall objective.

An alternative action-oriented approach was developed that focuses on identifying and implementing a series of smaller scale initiatives through collaborative processes between City staff, officials and community stakeholders. These initiatives focus on reducing barriers caused by winter elements, changing the community’s perceptions of winter, building upon the City’s existing High On Ice Winter Festival and increasing the overall livability of Fort St. John during winter. Each initiative acts as a precedent to build greater community awareness, recognition and excitement towards Fort St. John’s invigorated winter city movement. The overall objective is to set a new community tone regarding Fort St. John as a winter city and to lay the foundation for the future development a comprehensive winter strategy. The project serves as an example of how different approaches can exist to develop stronger winter cities in a manner that reflects the unique context of a community.

To learn more about Winter Cities Shake-Up, watch this great video from the 2015 event.

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