Uptown active transportation and public realm improvements

Creative engagement and public life study for the City of New Westminster.

A pop-up engagement event for active transportation improvements in the Uptown neighbourhood.

To develop safe, comfortable, and accessible walking, wheeling, and cycling corridors and public spaces for people of all ages and abilities, the City of New Westminster launched a suite of projects in the Uptown neighbourhood during 2021. The City brought our team on board to conduct engagement, generate public interest, and lead a public life study for the following street transformations: 

  • Uptown Active Transportation Improvements focus on upgrading one section of the Rotary Crosstown Greenway to become a safe yet dynamic multi-modal corridor, and creating a new cycling connector to New Westminster Secondary School (NWSS).
  • Uptown Sixth Street Public Realm Improvement focuses on orienting Sixth Street between Sixth Avenue and Belmont Street more towards the public realm and walking, with more flexible street use and improved accessibility.

These active transportation and public realm projects align with the City’s Master Transportation Plan and its Seven Bold Steps for Climate Action. Happy Cities conducted this project together with Urban Systems and collaborators Marco Pasqua Enterprises and Universal Access Design. Happy Cities was pleased to provide the following planning and engagement activities to help support the City:

Pop-up engagement

Over the Fall of 2021, Happy Cities engaged with over 500 people through four interactive pop-ups. With safety, equity and wellbeing as key priorities, our team used creative methods to safely engage a diverse range of community members within the context of COVID-19. From detailed visual and information boards, to wooden tree adorned with people’s feedback, to an assortment of family-friendly games, our innovative pop-up events encouraged the public to linger and share their thoughts with us and each other.

Focused engagement

Alongside our pop-ups, Happy Cities collaborated with the City of New Westminster and Urban Systems to conduct focused engagement with a diversity of Uptown residents, organizations, and businesses. Our approach to focused engagement prioritized outreach and relationship building with equity-seeking and seldom-heard communities, including (but not limited to) seniors, youth, racialized community members, immigrants, and people with diverse mobility needs.

Temporary installation

To encourage active transportation among youth and build momentum for the cycling connector to New Westminster Secondary School, our team worked with the school to install temporary rain art along the sidewalk leading to NWSS’ main entrance. When rain hits the sidewalk, a stream of walking, wheeling, and cycling figures appears, illustrating the potential route of a future bike path. This magic act has piqued interest in the Uptown projects among students, school staff, and passersby alike.

Public life study

Our team conducted a series of public life studies to better understand how public spaces along Sixth Street are currently being used, and how to unlock their potential. These studies combine observations with intercept surveys to identify opportunities for enhancing the public realm. We have completed the “before” aspect of this study, and will conduct the “after” component once the Uptown improvements are implemented in 2022. 

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