A s-PARK (pronounced “spark”) is a fusion of two words: street and park. The concept converts a street environment into a temporary public space that accommodates diverse programming and events. s-PARKS reinvent the street environment as a temporary community and pedestrian space encouraging both passive and animated activities. City of Calgary staff partnered with the Downtown West Community Association to implement a s-PARK pilot in Downtown West from August 9 to 25, 2013.
With programming funded through the Council Innovation Fund, City staff engaged the community association to develop and implement a recreation program plan for the pilot that balanced passive and active programming. Residents and visitors were encouraged to use the s-PARK as they would a neighbourhood park. During the week, visitors participated in passive activities such as reading, socializing with friends, enjoying coffee or lunch in the park. On the weekends, the full block was closed with free public recreational programming animating the streetscape.
Feedback from participants was generally positive with an overall appreciation of the concept and the programming. In particular, participants acknowledged the wide range and diversity of the activities and programs. Many indicated an interest in seeing the community association continue to host activities to bring residents together in the future. There were complaints regarding the road closure from some residents, businesses and commuters. Many suggested that a partial road closure or shorter program duration would have been preferred.
Centre City Planning & Implementation will continue to champion the s-PARK concept and encourage community organizations and other City of Calgary business units to identify opportunities to implement the program to create spaces for communities to interact, experience, recreate and socialize.