The Chat Podcast, Cornwall, Ontario

Creating an exciting place to be

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
Creating an exciting place to be
Hassan Rafiei and Justine Levac of Schnitzels European Flavours with the pop-up patio outside of the restaurant. Submitted photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – At their meeting on June 22, Cornwall City Council learned more about ways Cornwall can become a more vibrant and exciting community.

Back in February, Kelly Bergeron presented council with several proposals around the concept of placemaking.

Among some of the ideas Bergeron presented to council at the time, included painting the cross walk at Pitt and Second streets, parklets and murals.

In February, Council referred Bergeron’s ideas to administration for a report on what might be possible.

Shortly after that meeting the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Cornwall region, and lead to a shutting down of many businesses and amenities. Now that things are beginning to re-open, the city has seen some of Bergeron’s ideas already come to fruition organically.

Along Pitt St. in the downtown, small pop-up patios have been put out in front of restaurants.

The City is currently working with over 30 businesses who have expressed interest in extended patios.

“We visited the downtown with Ms. Bergeron and stopped at every restaurant that wanted to have a conversation with us and you have seen the results of that,” said Mark Boileau, Cornwall’s General Manager of Planning, Recreation and Development.

Additionally, to help accommodate outdoor dining, one Cornwall employee, Norma Lefevbre, took it upon herself to paint pinic tables bright and vibrant colours. So far, 20 tables have been painted.

Those tables have been scattered around the downtown. Currently there are a few around Riley’s Bakery.

Boileau said that he planned to get engagement from the public on other beautification projects, and suggested a few possibilities for a site for a mural or other art project, including the Benson Centre, the Justice Building or the Civic Complex.

Boileau suggested getting feedback from the public through the help of Communications Coordinator Emma Meldrum.

“I think we could work with Ms. Bergeron who came up with this idea. Or through Ms. Meldrum, solicit the community,” he said. “We are getting a lot of reaction from the public. So I think this would be a good time to ask for public input and engagement on a project.”

Councillors expressed enthusiasm for the placemaking idea.

“I was a big fan of this plan when I met with Kelly Bergeron when we met before the meeting in February. When I left that meeting I was so fired up I was ready to build a parklet on my way home,” said Councillor Todd Bennett. “I want to thank Kelly Bergeron who brought this forward. She is trying to help us create an exciting place to be. This is a win-win-win. There is so much potential here and I just want to see it realized.”

“Someone the other day asked me what placemaking is, and clearly it is about sparking our imagination about what Cornwall could be,” commented Mayor Bernadette Clement. “This is a change that takes time. Sometimes it takes warm weather and seeing the picnic tables to see what is possible.”

Bergeron herself was thrilled by the enthusiasm of council and thankful for the work of administration.

“It’s been great watching the city create placemaking opportunities in the downtown with the creation of the pop up patios to help support local restaurants. I’m looking forward to discussing the next phase of placemaking with the City and implementing vibrant new projects to help our community thrive during these strange times,” she said.

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