Lacombe launches parklets pilot project

The City of Lacombe has two new public spaces for sitting, eating and relaxing in the downtown area.

The City of Lacombe has two new public spaces for sitting, eating and relaxing in the downtown area.

These parklets — composed of street furniture, benches and planters — are a new pilot project this year, part of Lacombe’s Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan (DARP) that was adopted by council in January.

Together, the parklets cost an estimated $54,000.

City planning staff say they serve to provide a permanent public space in the area and encourage people to get out and enjoy Lacombe’s historic downtown.

One parklet is on 50th Street (measuring about 34 by five metres) and the other is in the Flatiron Block parking lot (about 24 by 9.3 metres). Both areas see a high volume of pedestrian traffic, said Josh de Jong, planning intern with the city.

“These two locations, one situated at the end of an underused space within a parking lot and the other in front of a vacant lot, will help the city evaluate public interest for a more permanent public space in the downtown,” said de Jong.

New guidelines were adopted in April to develop the downtown and a storefront grant program was recently launched as well, added Lyla Peter, manager of planning and development.

She said these projects and the parklets will “hopefully work together to increase the downtown’s vibrancy, which is one of DARP’s objectives.”

If the parklets are not supported by the community, based on public feedback after the pilot project wraps up in September, the street furniture and décor will be used at other locations throughout the city.

“We’re working with an organization downtown so we’ll be able to get feedback from them right away and we will be doing our own observations and contacting businesses and seeing if there is any economic benefit to increasing the amount of public space that’s available downtown,” de Jong said.

“We’re excited to see where it goes. The city had planned on investing in downtown street furniture for a while and everything that is being used can be repurposed if the pilot project is deemed to be unsuccessful.”

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