Brock U. Research Shows Residents Want More Vibrant Green Spaces In Downtown St. Catharines

News from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted June 29th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The City of St. Catharines in Niagara is off to a good start with recent downtown revitalization efforts, but more needs to be done to attract residents and enable those who work downtown to relax, according to new Brock University research.

Downtown St. Catharines in Niagara, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Brock University

Downtown St. Catharines in Niagara, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Brock University

On Wednesday, June 29th Brock’s Niagara Community Observatory released the report Downtown Revitalization in St. Catharines: Building the Vibrant Public Space, which includes the results of data collected by Professor of Geography Michael Ripmeester through polling 300 city residents on what they thought of recent downtown redevelopment efforts.

These include the construction of the 5,000-seat Meridian Centre, the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre and Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

About 80 per cent of those surveyed believe the Performing Arts Centre, the Meridian Centre and the Walker school are beneficial to the downtown.

However, only 7.63 per cent of survey respondents reported attending live arts events and 6.5 per cent live sporting events on a regular basis.

Of those who held positive views of St. Catharines’ recent development projects, “95 per cent also noted that other things would be more likely to bring them downtown,” says the report.

“They suggested that the downtown needs more welcoming spots in which to stroll, sit or commune with other downtown visitors,” says Ripmeester.

Survey respondents offered a number of ideas of how to make the downtown core greener and more relaxing and interesting.

“It seems clear that participants believe that the presence of individuals, families and seniors doing everyday social activities could provide the vibrancy that would attract them to downtown,” Ripmeester says.

“They want to see places where people are comfortable and engaged in pleasurable, low-cost or free leisure activities.”

The report concludes with a list of six recommendations for the downtown core, including:

  • Install more benches for “people watching”
  • Invest in a water feature in the city hall/market square area that could be a skating rink in the winter
  • Add landscaping, artwork and creative lighting
  • Arrange for free family outdoor entertainment during the spring and summer
  • Convert James St. between Church and King streets as a pedestrian walkway

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN. Niagara At Large encourages you to share your views on this post. A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who share their first and last name with them.

Visit Niagara At Large at for more news and commentary for and from the greater bi-national Niagara region.

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders




2 responses to “Brock U. Research Shows Residents Want More Vibrant Green Spaces In Downtown St. Catharines

  1. So good to see an informing interest into the St. Catharines downtown area between Brock U and the towns people. Having worked with the downtown residents and personally contributed culturally over these past years before the recent Arts renaissance, I notice the picture shifting, slightly. The meeting and greeting aspect may also happen with time alongside a vibrant village of shops, galleries, eateries and other smaller sustainable businesses. If I run into a cozy tea shop for a purchase today, and not just a drink, do I feel compelled to be a flâneur and have a playful public adventure? Not yet. Let’s hope that parking for events and street life will also unfold in a sustainable fashion.


  2. The NCO report touches on key elements – and it’s good to have Brock U and the citizenry have this conversation. Like the classic virtues of good architecture, the survey reports that public good comes through value added public spaces. I agree. And yet how to bring about a natural evolution of biz, play and the flaneur ‘s way that is less about imposing human activity than about genuine celebration from within the community itself. How to help inspire and mix it up when the site specific new venues are not affordable to the average St. Catharines downtown resident, or amenable for use by community groups or cultural organizations who have animated this home turf before the buzz of our current era’s arts renaissance. Let’s play and work together, but let it be a genuine thriving that expresses itself again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s