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MAP: ‘Tactical urbanism’ takes root with dozens of ActivateYYC projects

When Erika Topola and the Acadia Community Association went about constructing an outdoor crokicurl game last winter, getting 30 people out would have been considered a success.

Topola, who’s been with the Acadia Community Association for four years, said they’d always had their typical events that brought out the same faces from the neighbourhood. Not this one.

When 150 people showed up to play the crokinole/curling combination, it was overwhelming.

“It brought out so many people I’ve never seen before who have lived in the neighbourhood forever,” said Topola.

This project was made possible with an Activate YYC grant of $850 from the Federation of Calgary Communities.

Topola said they could have built the winter game on their own, but when community associations are biding every penny, having the grant made it an easy sell to the board. And it helped that ActivateYYC was looking for more winter ideas.

ActivateYYC is a microgrant program that came together through the City of Calgary as a part of the Canada 150 celebrations. One-hundred-fifty microgrants of roughly $750 were given to communities to create temporary “tactical urbanism” where community members were encouraged to walk, play and be neighbourly. Program control was then handed over to the Federation of Calgary Communities.

McKayla Saint-Cyr, Activate YYC Storyteller and Grants Coordinator, said the Acadia example is exactly what they had in mind in bringing communities together with the ActivateYYC program.

“It’s really about bringing people together, getting them to think outside the box and try new things,” said Saint-Cyr.

One upcoming activation Saint-Cyr is excited about is called YYC Audio Experience. It’s a smartphone-based concept that, when the user is dialled into the app, encourages them to dance while in a community.

“It’ll be a fun one to see it unfold,” said Saint-Cyr.

There are dozens of activations that have happened around the city, and some that are waiting to be completed.

“A lot of times community associations don’t have the funds to try something new. So, to be able to do something new and to bring the community together, even something like a community garden, it puts smiles on people’s faces,” Saint-Cyr said.

“When you’re at the events and you see how proud the people are to put it on, it’s great.”

Topola and the Acadia Community Association hope to lay down their crokicurl location again this winter and they’ve learned that the nearby community of Willow Ridge also has plans to construct one.

“Having the two rinks near each other brings the communities together and makes for some fun rivalries,” Topola said.

Applications for the third and final round of ActivateYYC grants closed July 3, and it’s uncertain if the program will continue past this year, Saint-Cyr said.