Posts tagged ‘Urban design’

Rediscovering Dickson Street

These days there are few if any stores available on Dickson Street, as more businesses flock to the Galt core.

Ben Schmalz and Emily Pederson are the latest entrepreneurs to establish themselves on Dickson, opening One Rebellion just last week. It’s an upscale clothing store catering to people over the age of 30.

“We’ve had so much traffic this week and people are so happy to see the store because there is nothing else quite like it down here,” said manager Pederson.

“We grew up in Galt, and I was looking to expand the business,” said Schmalz, who also operates a store in Dundas. “I took a look around and I was impressed with the revitalization that’s taking place in downtown. I loved the architecture and the ambiance. It was the perfect fit for us.”

Merryn Edgar, Patricia Cooley and Jennifer Gralec all opened their businesses the same day two years ago and became known as the “Dickson chicks”, following a television story on their enterprises.

Edgar runs Gallery M, an art shop that features works of many local artists.

“We’ve been doing really well since we opened and today I just sold two paintings, so it’s a big day for us,” she said.

In each area of the shop, Edgar has worked to bring together pieces of art that complement each other. In a similar way, she said each of the new businesses on Dickson Street does the same thing.

“There is a good mix of businesses down here. We do a lot of cross promoting and a lot of scratching each others’ backs when we can,” she said.

When Jennifer Gralec returned to work after having children, she decided that if she had to be away from her girls it would be to do something she loved. Baking is her passion and Tiny Cakes, her baking boutique, is a labour of love.

Since opening in December 2010, Tiny Cakes has become a regular stop for many people working on Dickson Street.

Gralec, like many of the other new businesses on Dickson Street, has used social media to get the word out on their businesses.

“I religiously post on Facebook, so people know what’s going on.”

Re New owner Patricia Cooley knew she had the right place when she walked into the office.

“This is a great space and with that big front window, it just called to me,” she said.

Re New is a medical laser and skin care aesthetics business, operating on the second floor of 65 Dickson St., across from city hall.

When Edit Kasza decided to move from St. Catharines and open her new business, she looked no further than Cambridge.

“I came for a visit and I absolutely love it here, especially Galt. I love all the architecture. It’s like a tiny, tiny version of Budapest.”

Kasza opened Edit Design Inc. in November and says the outdoor/indoor kitchen studio is slowly getting going.

“It’s taken time, but people are discovering I’m here,” she said. “You really have to see my studio to understand what I do.”

Eighty per cent of her business comes from outside of Cambridge, so her studio is becoming a destination for clients.

Baldeep Duggal can say the same thing of Phildon Pens.

“We’re one of a handful of pen shops in the country. We have local clients, but we are a destination for people who love pens and paper.”

Phildon Pens has been on Dickson Street for four years and Duggal sees a difference with the new businesses arriving.

“They are all small business owners who all  have good business plans. They all try to offer unique products and good services. When you have small businesses there is a certain sense of pride that you don’t see in big box stores.”

Decorators Kim Turner and Michelle Jones, who met at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts, opened The Relique Studio on Dickson Street. After teaming up to refinish a dining room suite, the pair went for coffee at Tiny Cakes and their concept of opening a shop evolved.

“As we were talking we were watching people come into the shop and realized these people could all be our customers. That’s when we started looking for a shop,” Jones said.

The shop opened eight months ago and there is no lack of business.

Bill Schwarz has been practicing law and painting in the Galt core since 1969.

“We used to have our law office on Dickson Street and things are really changing. I think the work that David (Gibson) is doing on Main Street has brought a lot of attention to the downtown.

“I think we’ve seen more change in the last 18 months than we’ve seen in the last 40 years. It’s really great to see.”

Source: The Cambridge Times


September 6, 2012 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

Revamping A Galt Downtown Heritage Building

Remember the ‘Right House’? Which was then cladded in metal and became a Big V Drugmart, then a Shoppers Drugmart… and it is now being rejuvenated! The makeover is part of a large-scale revitalization project of the Galt core by developer David Gibson.

I can’t wait to see the end result!

September 6, 2012 at 11:12 pm 1 comment

Gearing Up For Roundabout Battle

Coun. Nicholas Ermeta is ready to fight to keep roundabouts like this one on the Can-Amera Parkway from being built along the length of Franklin Boulevard in just two years. He plans to launch his battle at Tuesday’s council meeting.


What this councilor needs to do is his research regarding signalized roundabouts, and roundabout history in general. It’s time to move forward, not sit in traffic… I’ll even give him a little push. Amazing how Google can sometimes be your best friend. I personally drive roundabouts on a daily basis as I am a delivery driver and wish there were more of them in the region. The amount of time I sit at red lights in this Region is disheartening.

The only part I don’t agree with regarding the installation of these roundabouts is the cost factor. I’m sorry to hear that the Region has put a price tag on human lives, all in the name of saving money.

Traffic signals are much more costly than is commonly realized, even though they represent a sound public investment when justified. A modern signal can cost taxpayers between $80,000 and $100,000 [U.S. $] to install – depending on the complexity of the intersection and the characteristics of the traffic using it. On top of this, there is a perpetual cost which is almost never considered – the cost of the electrical power consumed in operating a signalized intersection 24 hours a day. This now averages about $1,400 per year.

Arizona Department of Transportation

Why not pay a little bit more to save a life? This way we don’t have to repeat the tragedy that happened near St. Mary’s high school, at the intersection of Homer Watson Boulevard and Block Line Road.

Coun. Nicholas Ermeta is mad as hell and is demanding that Waterloo Region listen to the wishes of people in Cambridge.

As council resumes after its summer hiatus, Ermeta will be bringing forward a motion to Cambridge council calling on it to condemn the region’s decision to set aside previously approved plans to gradually install roundabouts at 11 intersections on Franklin Boulevard in favour of completing all of them within two years.

“It’s very important that we fight for what’s right for Cambridge. People aren’t ready for this,” he said. “We’ve got to send a strong message to the region that we don’t want this.”

Since posting his notice of motion in July, Ermeta says he has been deluged with phone calls from people upset about the region’s plans.

“I’ve gotten overwhelming positive feedback from people in Cambridge,” he said. “I’ve even had calls from people in Kitchener and Waterloo supporting me. They aren’t fond of what’s happened with Ira Needles Boulevard.”

Another concern raised is that the volume of traffic on Franklin Boulevard may make it impossible for drivers to safely enter roundabouts from the sidestreets.

Ermeta also vehemently objects to plans to install a roundabout in front of St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School.

“They installed a roundabout near St. Mary’s (High School) in Kitchener and it’s been a disaster,” Ermeta said. “I’m in favour of the status quo at Franklin and Saginaw. If anything, the lights should be extended there to give people more time to cross the street.”

Ideally, Ermeta wants Waterloo Region to go back to its original plan to install the first three roundabouts at the top of Franklin Boulevard and then take a year to evaluate.

The region initially supported that plan until transportation planning staff filed a report recommending all 11 roundabouts be installed over a two-year period to minimize disruption to traffic and cut costs. That recommendation was accepted, but the decision was far from unanimous.

“All three (Cambridge) representatives voted against the change. So did the mayors of North Dumfries, Woolwich and one of the other townships. It’s the K-W councillors that are telling Cambridge what to do.”

Ermeta’s motion calls on “Cambridge City Council to condemn the (May 16) decision made by the Council of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo”.

It further asks council to request that the regional council reconsider and approve a new motion similar to the original recommendation previously passed.”

Source: The Cambridge Times

September 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment

London to host Creative City Summit

London is holding the three-day Creative City Summit starting today, an assembly of about 140 people passionate about making their communities more fun and more interesting. Livelier, healthier, smarter.

A creative city is one that “people of all ages and ethnicities feel proud to call home,” said Robin Armistead, London’s manager of culture and an organizer of the conference. “What makes your city liveable — that’s what it’s all about.”

When e-technology allows people to move almost anywhere their ideas will take them, creative cities are about drawing them to a place where they can live.

That translates into bold new buildings and repurposed old ones, lively restaurants, cool businesses, brilliant nature, and an economy built on vision.

More information can be found here.


May 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

Decorative Crosswalks on King Street

The final push is on to get the revitalized King Street streetscape completed by the end of the construction season. But the $10.9-million project isn’t running out of time. Favorable weather and contractor efficiencies have meant the work west of Gaukel Street was completed faster this year than the first phase was last year.

Crews closed King Street west of Benton Street earlier this week to complete an entrance feature that was bumped last year by tight Oktoberfest timelines. The work will include a decorative paving-stone crosswalk and a concrete roadway similar to the one already in front of city hall.

Construction crews working on streetscape.

That section of King Street will be closed until Labour Day.

Meanwhile, work on the final block of streetscaping continues further down between Water and Francis streets. Crews have finished the sidewalks and trees have been planted. They’re working to install paving stones before the road work is wrapped up. There will be an entrance feature at that end of the street similar to the one going in at King and Benton. That should be finished by the end of September.

The city is considering adding the same decorative crosswalks throughout the redeveloped street, but hasn’t made a decision on that yet. Those can be installed after the final layer of asphalt is down. The plan was to finish the final layer in 2011, but the work has been accelerated. If nothing alters the pace, it could be finished this year.

The street reconstruction is part of a larger push by the city to bring more traffic and business to the core. The city’s façade improvement grant program in the core has already seen 13 storefronts upgraded, with another three underway and eight approved but not yet started. They’re in addition to a number of businesses — Coffee Culture, Laurier Optical, Crabby Joes and Shoppers Drug Mart — which completed similar improvements outside of the program. Other large downtown projects, including the University of Waterloo’s school of pharmacy, Wilfrid Laurier University’s graduate school of social work and a redevelopment of the former Lang Tannery, are also part of the city’s push to revitalize the core.


August 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

Q & A: Roundabouts in the Region

Here’s a good little interview between local resident Lorraine Green of Kitchener and Steve van De Keere, head of transportation expansion for Region of Waterloo.


Our roundabouts are too small and have too tight a turning radius. Even in Italy with its small Fiats, I didn’t find them so tight. It means a tendency to overcorrect when coming out of them.

Van De Keere:

Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Research shows that larger roundabouts with “relaxed” geometry tend to experience more injury crashes, primarily because they do not adequately control the speeds of entering vehicles. The region is reviewing the exit geometry for future roundabouts, to make it easier for motorists to exit properly, and to assist snow plow operators.


The centre circle has been planted in most roundabouts, obscuring the view of what’s coming at you as you want to enter. I’ve been nearly hit twice already as I tried to enter thinking nothing was coming, and then had a car appear from nowhere around the circle.

Van De Keere:

Tree and shrub plantings are necessary to make the central island more visible to drivers, especially at night. This increased visibility helps reduce occurrences where unfamiliar drivers are surprised by the roundabout, and fail to slow adequately. Height restrictions on plantings ensure there’s enough visibility for a driver to make the decision to go or not. Too much visibility can encourage aggressive driving.


Curbs protrude as you come out of a roundabout, making people tend to swerve into the adjoining lane. The ability to come out of the roundabout should be more gradual, allowing one to exit more smoothly without a drastic slowdown.

Van De Keere:

The region is reviewing the exit geometry for future roundabouts, to make the curvature more gradual.


The necessity to merge after exiting is too short a distance and too abrupt. As more traffic uses roads like Ira Needles Boulevard, there will be crashes as more people try to merge or wander across a lane.

Van De Keere:

Merging on the exit at a roundabout is actually much easier than on the exit from a traffic signal. But some local drivers are apprehensive. At a roundabout, this merge occurs at a much lower speed. Also, vehicles entering side-by-side at a roundabout tend to stagger as they go through. This creates natural gaps, to allow merges to occur easily. To address local apprehension, the region is reviewing the merge length on the exits for future roundabouts.

Now playing: Strung Out – Andy Warhol
via FoxyTunes

October 8, 2009 at 2:00 am 1 comment

HydroCity Lecture

November 5, 2009 – 6:30pm
Main Lecture Theatre, UW Architecture Building

The HydroCity Lecture, a Symposium on Hydrology and Urbanism, is presented in conjunction with a Symposium to be held at the University of Toronto on November 6, 2009.

Alan Berger is Associate Professor of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he teaches courses in the department of urban studies and planning. He founded and directs P-REX, The Project for Reclamation Excellence at MIT, a trans-disciplinary research effort focusing on the design and reuse of waste landscapes worldwide. By using low-angle aerial photography, maps, and other graphic evidence, Berger visually reveals evidence and trends of landscape waste throughout the world—from public health hazards such as abandoned mine pits, mountains of slag, and pools of cyanide, to vacant land, landfills, military installations, and places associated with high and low-density urbanization. How these sites are cleansed, valued and considered for adaptive reuse at local and regional scales is Berger’s main area of interest. His work emphasizes the link between our consumption of natural resources, and the waste and destruction of landscape, to help us better understand how to proceed with redesigning our wasteful places for future productive uses and more sustainable outcomes. He has coined the term “Systemic Design” to describe the productive integration of disvalued landscapes into our urbanized territories and regional ecologies. Berger currently serves as a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Brownfield and Superfund site revitalization in the American landscape.

Berger’s award winning books include Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America, and Reclaiming the American West (PAPress 2006, 2002 respectively) His other books include Designing the Reclaimed Landscape, published (Taylor & Francis 2008) and Nansha Coastal City: Landscape and Urbanism in the Pearl River Delta (Harvard Design School 2006).

Prior to coming to MIT he was Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard-GSD, 2002-2008. He has been Distinguished Visiting Professor of Landscape Urbanism at Oslo School of Architecture in Norway, and at Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark. He was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Sustainability at University of Michigan’s Taubman School of Architecture, and Visiting Professor for Landscape Urbanism at Katholike University in Leuven-Belgium. He is a Prince Charitable Trusts Fellow of The American Academy in Rome.

October 7, 2009 at 6:32 pm Leave a comment

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