Student research project proposes the city create parklets
Parklets, not parking spaces, can create a positive vibe in the City of Kelowna.
A group of UBC Okanagan students, as part of their Cultural Studies research project, have produced a report on the potential positive impact parklets can have on a city.
Fourth-year students Tessa Baatz, Chiara Mason and Emma Mcleod researched the growing popularity in other cities of repurposing parking spaces into parklets— changing a current parking space into a small seating area, or green space for the public.
The report argues that the City of Kelowna should build on the revitalization of Bernard Street and the city’s sidewalk café extension program to allow for parklets—an idea that has proven to foster healthier and more vibrant urban communities. The report seeks to kick-start a conversation about the predominance of car-centric urban design.
“Parklets are a unique and completely feasible initiative towards reclaiming public space for building community spirit, an eco-friendly urban design and a people-centered city living” explains Mcleod.
The students formally presented the report to city staff this spring but were told implementation of the report’s proposals will require community advocacy. The research was commissioned by Christian Brandt, co-founder and executive director of Ogo Car Share Co-Op.
“With this project we wanted UBC Okanagan students to look differently at streets, how to re-model them and how to create a better city,” says Brandt. “We hope their report serves as a guiding document for the City of Kelowna to better understand the positive impacts of parklets for the future of Kelowna. Eventually, we hope to see more permanent parklets around our urban centres. ”
The full report, Parklets: Innovations in Public Space can be accessed at: fccs.ok.ubc.ca/programs/undergraduate/culturalstudies/student-projects
The report was produced as a student project for Cultural Studies 499: Community Engaged Research in Cultural Studies, a course where students complete research projects in partnership with community partners.