Reviewing the public square

Since its opening in May, the events in the public square have either drawn in large crowds or a scant audience.

The success or failure of the programs continues to aid the development of the type of activities that are, and will be, available in the coming months.

Activities offered in the square have included concerts, dancing and martial arts in addition to special events. According to Tracey Suerich, program coordinator for the City of Waterloo, the summer program was an overall success.

“We had some programs that went through a few different trial periods, trying a few different things,” said Suerich.

“Generally we learned a lot.”

Ballroom dancing was one of the most popular activities held over the summer.

“We’d regularly have 80 to 100 people watching on the sidelines and by the end of the lessons we’d probably have 20 to 30 couples up dancing,” said Suerich.

The costs to the city in running such events have been minimal with the support of local sponsors and volunteers.

Dance lessons, hosted by the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, cost the city $40 per week and the sponsored event Bikeapolooza cost $450.

“The square can be successful because it brings the community forward and gets them involved in the programming,” said Suerich.

With the strong community support, events will continue into the colder months.

“We’ll be running a Festival of Lights and Global Holiday Celebration through the month of December. We hope to do a very European style outdoor market during the shopping season,” said Suerich.

Although many events are not youth-oriented, sports in the winter may interest a younger crowd.

January events will focus on the upcoming Olympics, featuring winter sports such as skiing and snowshoeing.

A miniature ski jump is also in the works to be created along some of the current bench seating for people to attempt during the ski workshops.

The most up-to-date listing of the events coming up in the square are available on the city’s website.

Yoga

Yoga has been one of the less successful events held this summer, yet Shant Dubey, a volunteer yoga instructor, remains optimistic about the program.

“It takes time for anything new to get rooted,” said Dubey.

Yoga will be re-evaluated and hopefully launch in some form next spring.

“I still feel in my heart that yoga is a powerful thing that will bring people out, but there were a few stumbling blocks with it,” said Suerich.

SkateZone

For a total of 10 hours per week, a section of the public square is open to skateboarders of all ages.

Two rails have been installed on the site for use during those times.

SkateZone was developed to meet the needs of skateboarders after city council decided to prohibit the activity.

Without an alternative venue, specified hours were given to them with adequate space in the square.

“It’s such a good place to skate,” said frequent skateboarder Chris Howe.

“It should be on everyday,” said Tristan Clarke, 13.

Outside of SkateZone hours, skateboarders are left without a proper facility, and some, like Alex Handy, 12, must skate “wherever we can find.”

Tai Chi

Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada has hosted Tai Chi in the square all summer, which will be continuing into the fall.

Held on Tuesdays at 7:45 a.m. and Friday over the lunch hour, it has had an excellent turnout.

“People are joining in I believe every week,” said Denise Paquette of the Taoist Tai Chi Society.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing … because its generating interest in community spirit,” said Paquette.

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