Power of placemaking research and engagement

Exploring the role that placemaking plays in supporting community wellbeing, with the Healthy Communities Initiative and Canadian Urban Institute.

colourful graphic by happy cities, showing illustrated people doing various activities together: playing ping pong, planting gardens, talking, playing music, and more.

Building the case for placemaking

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, community placemaking initiatives have exploded across Canada. Recognizing the need for more outdoor social spaces, municipalities, community organizations, local businesses, and regular citizens have all become invested in placemaking—from street murals, to public plazas, to community gardens and events and much more.

This project, the Power of Placemaking, explores the role that these community-led and supported placemaking interventions can play in supporting wellbeing.

With the Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI), Happy Cities conducted research and connected with over 100 placemakers across Canada to reflect on the placemaking transformations we’ve seen over the past few years, with the goal of learning more about how these projects have contributed to greater community wellbeing. From Tuktoyaktuk to Dawson City, and from Vancouver to Montreal—discover the power of placemaking through these research and stories.

Learn more!

As part of this project, we created series of public resources to share our learnings around the value of placemaking for community wellbeing—providing a ready case that cities, residents, community organizations, and local businesses across Canada can use to to motivate investment and excitement around placemaking projects in their communities. Visit the project website or scroll down to learn more!

1. The Power of Placemaking Snapshots

This slide deck shares evidence and stories to help people make the case for placemaking and motivate change in their communities. We invite you to read the Snapshots as a whole, or to use specific slides or sections in whatever capacity suits you. Please credit the Healthy Communities Initiative and Happy Cities when sharing, so that we can shine a spotlight on your placemaking projects and initiatives!

2. The Power of Placemaking Engagement Summary Report

This report shares the insights of over 100 placemakers who took part in eight discussion sessions during summer 2023. Participants included city staff, funders, community organizations and people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. It offers learnings around key opportunities and challenges for investing in placemaking across Canada.

About the Healthy Communities Initiative

The Healthy Communities Initiative (HCI) is a $60-million investment from the Government of Canada to transform public spaces in response to COVID-19. Since 2020, HCI has provided over 1,000 grants, ranging from $5,000 to $150,000, with 75 per cent of the funded projects carried out by registered non-profits. HCI offers ongoing support to placemaking through its community of practice—Canada’s Placemaking Community. It is supported by the Canadian Urban Institute, Community Foundations of Canada, and other partners.

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