It was an uphill battle, literally, but residents in a northwest Calgary neighbourhood now have a colourful new on-street pathway to encourage safe, active transportation next to the area elementary school.
Over the weekend, volunteers with the North Haven Community Association (NHCA) put the finishing artistic touch on the temporary, separated 145-metre painted pathway next to the North Haven Elementary School along the sloped 48 Avenue and 10 Street NW.
Alex MacKinnon, director of communications and technology with the NHCA, put the traffic-calming proposal together back in April 2017. They were hoping for a protected pathway along that route to make it safer to navigate between intersections and to get people moving around the community.
It does eat into the navigable roadway, and there have been a few people concerned about that loss, but MacKinnon said so far the response has been favourable.
“We’re a relatively low traffic area that doesn’t necessarily need two lanes coming into a community,” he said.
“If everyone got in an uproar, everything could be removed and washed away.
“But, when we were out there (painting), everyone was just cheering it, people were honking at the whole crowd of volunteers, so I think the overall message we received from the initial impression was really positive.”
The pathway’s design element was put together by local illustrator, Mark Gervais. The NHCA was able to access an Activate YYC grant through the Federation of Calgary Communities – while they were working with the city on the pathway concepts – to make that happen.
They had the design stencil milled and then they marked out 170 of the designs. It only took 72 Sharpies. Thirty volunteers doing 7 hours shifts, coupled with exceptional spring weather helped them complete the painting.
The other aspect of the artistic touch was to spread the word that the community has new and exciting initiatives like this one, MacKinnon said. It’s a part of an overall NHCA rebranding effort and the pathway design uses a silhouette of their new logo and their new colours.
A new community association sign is also on the way.
That, in itself, is a part of reinventing the community to draw in new residents. He said they don’t necessarily have the small business draw of nearby neighbourhood such as Mount Pleasant, so they want to compensate by putting together desirable infrastructure for young families.
“We may have to go the other way around, we have to maybe change the demographic and increase local pedestrian traffic for a business owner to say, ‘hey, you know what, I think this is going to be a really, really awesome spot to put a small business,” MacKinnon said.
There are a few more additional touches left, including ensuring some of the missing links to the city’s pathway system are connected to this new one. Doing that creates a finished transportation corridor, but also helps expand the North Haven school’s walk zone, MacKinnon said.
I will judge the project strictly on its ability to encourage people out to explore the pathway.Alex MacKinnon – North Haven Community Association, on Reddit