City happy with Open Streets outcome

(Graphic by Steph Truong)

Celebrating their second year promoting sustainable living within the community, Open Streets will be discussing the possibility of returning to Uptown Waterloo this upcoming summer.

Open Streets, originally named Car Free Sunday, promoted self-sufficiency by closing off King Street for three hours once a month on a Sunday during the summer to allow Uptown West businesses, sports demonstrations, various vendors and local eateries to open for the public.

Melissa Durrell, city councillor for Ward 7 in Waterloo, started the event in 2011 after being inspired to help sustain the environment. She soon brought a small group together, who then helped Durrell create the event, in the first of which occurred in June 2011. She helped to run the event last year.

However, her role had changed this past summer.

“This year, my role dramatically changed,” Durrell said. “The city council voted to put in a board of directors, so I worked with the volunteers.”

Last summer, Open Streets was previously run by the city, especially by Durrell. This differs in comparison to this year as volunteers then ran it from the board of directors, whom Durrell referred to as her “dream team.”

Rather than running the event on her own, the volunteers were able to take on more tasks to reflect the openness of the organization. Another major change this past summer was the funding model for the event.

“There was $15,000 of sponsorship money put into funding this event and there was kind support from the community as well,” Durrell shared.

Andrew Dodds, director of Uptown Business Relations for Open Streets Waterloo, was given the task of introducing himself to all the businesses that would partake in the Open Streets events.

Throughout the process of planning for the proceedings of Open Streets, Dodds acted as a liaison for them to address any questions or concerns.  “I would also encourage these businesses to take part and I would help them figure out how they can take part for the event,” Dodds said.

In 2011, Kitchener was previously involved along with Waterloo for Open Streets. However, Kitchener unexpectedly dropped out of Open Streets this year amd it is unknown if they will participate with Waterloo in the future.

“I think Kitchener had an unfortunate experience with it,” Dodds reasoned. “I can reassure that we are doing everything we can to make it better and we are going to move forward.”

Durrell emphasized that Open Streets was created for the community and symbolizes togetherness. “We welcome Kitchener to be apart of this and we welcome Kitchener residents to come and be a part of Open Streets,” Durrell said.

“If Kitchener wants to join us we would be happy to share with them what we’ve learned and we’ll help them to make it successful.”

A meeting with the council will be taking place in late November to discuss the possibility of Open Streets returning next summer.

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