Award of Excellence in Streetscaping and Public Realm Improvements
April 24, 2023 – WATERLOO, ON – The Uptown Waterloo Business Improvement Area (BIA) has been recognized for its Street Lively Active Temporary Seating (SLATS) project located on Princess Street by the Ontario Business Improvement Areas Association (OBIAA) as one of 13 winners of its 2023 Awards.
“Over the past few years, we have put a significant focus on placemaking and animating public spaces,” shares Tracy Van Kalsbeek, Executive Director of the Uptown Waterloo BIA. “During the pandemic, many businesses suffered significantly due to lockdowns and there was also a desire from residents to be outside more and maximize the use of public space. The Uptown Waterloo BIA saw an opportunity to merge both needs with projects like The SLATS.”
In 2021, the BIA worked alongside a group of local business owners with the idea of transforming the west side of Princess Street to accommodate for extended patios. The BIA enlisted the help of Shared Places and ABA Architects to create a vibrant, public space alongside the patios, with interactive installations, street murals and seating. The project evolved for 2022 and Uptown saw a second iteration that featured an installation by local designer Amy Esplen titled The SLATS. The updated streetscape added more outdoor public space with interesting and artistic seating along with trees and shrubs, creating a temporary urban forest. The SLATS was used for pop up performances, events and non profit programming as well as for every day enjoyment of a place to meet friends, eat lunch or just relax.
The SLATS was also conveniently located close to the BIA’s FUSE lighting activation and night market location at the Waterloo Public Library – adding additional vitality to the two block area.
“We are just thrilled to have our placemaking efforts recognized like this,” adds Van Kalsbeek. Winners from across Ontario were evaluated from a record 47 entries from 30 Business Improvement Areas from 20 cities or towns. An in-person gala was held in London, Ontario as part of the recent 2023 BIA Annual Conference celebrating the winners. For more information on the Awards, including the full list of winners, visit the OBIAA Conference website.
The SLATS was also selected to receive Government of Canada funding through the My Main Street Community Activator program.