Edmonton's WinterCity Strategy - enhancing winter living through innovative leisure practice in a northern Canadian city
Halpenny, Elizabeth A.
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Winter climates provide opportunities for residents and visitors to engage in a variety of leisure activities such as skating, toboganning, skiing, snowboarding and more recent introductions such as fat biking. These activities serve to animate winter cities and enhance the quality of life of residents. At the same time, winter conditions often act as a detriment to participation in leisure pursuits as people are reluctant to endure cold temperatures outdoors. Winter cities around the world are attempting to reposition winter as a season for residents and visitors to embrace and enjoy. This case documents the process used by multiple stakeholders in the City of Edmonton to celebrate its winter season and transform itself into “a World-Leading Winter City.” Initiated with a series of public consultations beginning in 2011, ten themes were identified to formulate a WinterCity Strategy for the City of Edmonton. The themes are categories divided into “Winter Life,” “Winter Design,” Winter Economy,” and “Our Winter Story.” Since the launch of the Strategy in October 2012, City practitioners, entrepreneurs, NGO partners and members of the public have been engaged in efforts to reclaim the public spaces of Edmonton to celebrate winter living. A WinterCity Coordinator and support team at the City of Edmonton is championing these efforts. Efforts include developing a four-season patio culture; creating new winter based narratives with the City’s poet Laurette, public school writing competitions, and media outreach; expanding winter festival offerings and related special events; and, enhancing building and infrastructure design to mitigate the negative effects of cold temperatures and wind, and enhance solar access. The impact of the Winter Cities Initiative and lessons learned from the first 5 years of these efforts are described in the case. This case study aids in winter city repositioning by identifying innovative ideas for reclaiming and animating the winter cityscapes making them more attractive places to live and visit. The case also provides a “kick start” to expand the dialogue around the impact of climate on quality of life, leisure participation and community identity.
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