"I would love to see a public square with a park, benches and trees; a peaceful place to gather and read books, and a great place for sight see-ers as well."
- comment from attendee at
Canada Day celebration
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Old News Archives
August 1, 2014
The time to plan is now
The future of Stratford’s beloved Market Square was on the minds of the nearly 200 citizens who packed a city-sponsored open house several weeks ago. City staff addressed the aging infrastructure, while citizens talked about their vision for the square.
PLANT Architect Inc., the firm that won an international design competition nearly a decade ago, reminded us of their early stage concepts and drawings.
The Stratford Market Square committee reiterated that Stratford needs and deserves a redevelopment project for Market Square that reflects our heritage and speaks to our future. Other communities in North America have vastly improved the life at the core of their cities through projects that have increased pedestrian traffic, attracted new businesses, generated new tax and business revenue, and returned these historic market squares to people-friendly meccas.
The Market Square project currently sits at the top of the city’s priority list, but it is unfunded, except for the time-sensitive WalMart donation of $1.25 million. Our committee doesn’t believe that a lack of funds should stop a planning process that will affect Stratford’s future so dramatically.
This is possibly the most important project Stratford has considered in decades. The time to plan is now.
When the Finance subcommittee brings recommendations to council in the coming weeks, we certainly hope they reflect the following vision and recommendations:
• Market Square should be an aesthetically pleasing, safe, accessible and people-friendly (and bike-friendly) gathering place with room for commerce, the arts, entertainment and families. Cars and buses would be nearby, and plantings and trees would be key features.
• Despite financial constraints, Stratford should aspire to a high quality, even visionary, plan and design for the square, not half-measures like a few barrels of geraniums.
• Whether work starts this year, or five years from now, the city needs to develop an official Market Square redevelopment plan now.
• A community-based advisory committee would ensure public/business input, design integrity and process transparency, and a focus on economic, social and cultural benefits.
• PLANT Architect’s concept can be a starting point so that more citizen input can shape and influence the final design. (NB: PLANT Architect has provided a concept only. This internationally recognized design and architecture consultancy has unique expertise designing large urban spaces like Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto and is willing to develop this concept further with input from citizens and officials. To date, PLANT Architect has contributed tens of thousands of dollars of thinking and design at no cost to Stratford.)
In addition, the city must:
• Confirm that the renewal/redevelopment of Market Square is their top capital project.
• Outline the steps necessary to secure more funding for this project by 2017, when Canada will celebrate its sesquicentennial.
• Even consider selling other assets to move this project forward.
• Develop tangible options for the tricky parking and transit issues associated with this project.
The redevelopment of Stratford’s Market Square speaks volumes about the character of our community and the vision of its citizens. Let’s get it right and let’s start planning now!
July 2, 2014
STRATFORD, July 2, 2014 – The Stratford Market Square Committee launched a social media campaign today to encourage public input about options to redevelop Stratford’s historic Market Square. Using the hashtag #MyMarketSquare, the campaign is intended to engage the public in visionary plans for the Square via Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth.
The campaign was prompted by the City of Stratford’s decision to hold a public Open House at City Hall today to seek public input about the Market Square. At the Open House, PLANT Architect Inc., the design firm that won that Committee’s design competition in 2006, will profile their winning design once again. The Stratford Market Square Committee will also make a presentation, along with other community groups.
“This Open House offers a chance for people to get involved and talk about their hopes and wishes for a vibrant Market Square,” says Eleanor Kane, on behalf of the Stratford Market Square Committee. “But we don’t want to stop there. Our Committee wants to keep the dialogue going with the public and community organizations so we can refine the vision and plans for a green, people-friendly Market Square development.” The Committee is encouraging City Council to develop a long-term plan for the Square based on the PLANT Architect design that would address relevant funding, design, implementation, public/business consultation requirements and economic development implications. The Committee is also calling on Council to establish a permanent advisory committee to facilitate effective implementation, public information and design integrity.
Stratford citizens and organizations are encouraged to use the campaign’s hashtag to clarify their views on Twitter (e.g., “#MyMarketSquare is a place for great food”) about the future they envision for the Square. They are also free to submit personal video commentaries using the intro “My Market Square is …” and selfies that will be posted on the Committee website at http://www.stratfordmarketsquare.ca and on Facebook.
“We appreciate that the City has many planning and funding issues to sort out as it considers the redevelopment of the Market Square, but we want to help them understand the degree of public support for a well-designed, world-class city centre we can all be proud of,” says Kane.
June 11, 2014
Market Square the heart of the city
The redevelopment of Stratford’s Market Square is back in the news as Stratford City Council is once again considering its options.
The Market Square project sits, unfunded, at the top of the city’s priority list and city staff are taking a serious look at the deteriorating tangle of sewers that lie below the square. On the horizon is a public open house (no date yet) to ask for your opinion, once more, about how the heart of our city should be developed.
The volunteers who comprise the Market Square Committee welcome this renewed interest, even if it is tied to the messy business of parking, sewers and buses. Citizens have repeatedly told us they want a people-friendly redevelopment that would generate true economic, cultural and community benefits.
It’s time to review the facts and make some decisions:
In 2006, an international design competition produced a top-quality design for the square that enjoys a lot of public support. (Check out the PLANT Architects design here).
The city price tag for the overall project is roughly $9 to $11 million, with most costs being associated with sewer and transit issues that need to be addressed in any case.
Walmart’s time-limited gift of $1.25 million keeps the cost of the above ground redevelopment under $4 million, about a third of the overall cost.
The PLANT design has all of the elements required to deliver a revitalized Market Square, and it can be amended to address emerging needs. It would deliver green space, outdoor seating, and a high standard of architectural design.
Parking is an issue.
Seven case studies (Kingston, Brantford, Toronto, Waterloo, Pittsburgh Market Square and Pioneer Courthouse Market Square in Portland, Oregon) demonstrate that in every case investment in market spaces produced significant returns in terms of tourism, new tax revenues, and increased business traffic for local businesses.
Using the Ministry of Tourism’s Economic Impact Model (TREIM) every $1 million invested in Market Square should produce a total GDP of $585,000 and a labour income of $383,000.
In addition, based upon the TREIM model, for every 10,000 additional visitors attracted to Stratford, a total GDP of $1.92 million and total labour income of $1.01 million would be generated within Perth County.
Our committee has recommended action in time for the 2017 sesquicentennial celebrations, the creation of a council advisory committee to ensure public engagement and quality design, and adoption of the existing or a slightly modified version of the PLANT design.
At the open house, our committee will be ready to talk about the PLANT design, ways to update it, the real costs and benefits, and how other Canadian cities have revived their marketplaces.
Stratford’s Market Square is a true community asset. Planners, architects and historians say it is potentially the best market square in Southwestern Ontario and, if well developed, could rank with some of the finest in the world! Right now it is an unappealing, un-safe parking lot.
It’s time to turn our ugly cygnet into something we can all be proud of. Let’s take a page from Tom Patterson. He saw the potential for a great Shakespearean theatre where only street and school names existed.
When the city schedules its open house, please join us in asking for a timely, world-class Market Square development that befits this great city and the long-term vision of its citizens.
May 5, 2014
Market Square Redevelopment City Council Motion to be Considered
Stratford City Council is expected to consider a motion (possibly on May 12) from the Finance subcommittee to hold an Open House to consider plans to redevelop the Market Square. While your community-based Market Square Committee is encouraged that the future of Market Square are once again being actively debated, we feel that more public consultations and more calls for design proposals are wasteful of taxpayers' money and could provide an excuse for further delay.
An international competition produced a winning design from the PLANT Architects Incorporated in 2006. It has all of the components that Stratford residents told us they support. We encourage you to refresh your memory about that design by clicking here.
Our Committee recommends that Council:
Stratford Market Square supporters, please consider attending this meeting of Council. Please contact your councillors, and Mayor Dan Mathieson, and urge them to defeat this motion. Contact information can be found on the City of Stratford website here.
April 30, 2014
Presentation to Stratford City Council by the Market Square Project Committee
In response to the City of Stratford Management Report (April 2014) regarding Stratford’s Market Square
Stratford’s Market Square Committee welcomes the opportunity to once again provide input and comments about the City’s plans to revitalize our community’s historic Market Square.
To begin, the Market Square Committee would like to restate our preference for the original winning design conceived by PLANT Architect Incorporated in response to the City’s call for proposals from international design and architecture firms. In our view, that winning design has all of the elements required to deliver a revitalized Market Square...
To read the entire presentation click here.
May 27, 2013
Shaping Stratford – an Official Plan Review
To read the draft official plan for Stratford's future, click here.
Slow Food in Stratford Market Square
Stratford's Slow Food Market takes place in Market Square behind City Hall each Sunday, May through October. Vendors are serving up and selling good, clean, fair-trade food to locals and tourists alike. The move, approved unanimously by Stratford City Council allows the Slow Food Market – which has been operating since June 2010 at Monforte Dairy and Anything Grows – a chance to take to the outdoors once again.
Every Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the vendors take over the half of Market Square closest to City Hall. Establishing a weekly market in Market Square is taking Stratford's core back to its roots. The square didn't come by its name by chance – it once was the site of the city's market, where producers from across the region would gather to do business. And it's also one step closer to doing what has been under investigation for years ... reclaiming the square from the cars and transforming it into a pedestrian-friendly space.
No doubt the outdoor market is attracting more people to the downtown core on Sunday – which is often a slow day when some shop owners don't bother to open at all – hopefully generating more revenue for local business. It is drawing a larger local crowd, who may not have realized it existed until now. And it will be good for visitors too, since statistics show about 19 per cent of Canadian and American tourists visit farmers' markets when they travel.
Stratford Celebrates Canada Day in Market Square
Stratford City Centre Committee's Annual Canada Day Celebration filled Market Square once again this year. Literally thousands of locals and visitors enjoyed the free entertainment. Past performers at this yearly event have included castmembers of the Stratford Festival, local bands The Upside of Maybe, Pidgeon Jones, Big Jon and the Honkin' Swans and Stratford's own Loreena McKennitt.
The day's events also includes the presentation of this year's Bronze Star recipients. The 2013 recipients were Agnes Macphail, who was the first woman elected to sit in Canadian parliament in 1921, Stratford Fetival choreographer and director Brian MacDonald and actor and director Brian Bedford, and R. Thomas Orr, who helped to build Stratford into the green city it is today, advocating for parklands and fighting to keep Queen’s Park from being developed into a rail yard.
Stratford's Canada Day party has always been geared to families, with children's activities including a mini-golf course on the temporarily pedestrianized Wellington Street. The food concession is always busy.
The Canada Day Celebration is one of the events that brings Market Square back to being a people place. This, and other events that utilize Market Square, demonstrate how vital and interesting the Public Space can be.
May 16, 2012 – 7pm
Knox Presbyterian Church
Amphitheatre Room (Waterloo Street Entrance)
Discover Stratford’s digital future, the winning design for Stratford Market Square, and how public/private partnerships work.
Hear from the people who know.
Dan Mathieson – Mayor, City of Stratford
Lisa Rapoport – Partner, PLANT Architect Inc.
Rick Haldenby – Director, University of Waterloo, School of Architecture
Marianne Brandis – Stratford Resident & Writer
Moderated by Janice Zolf – CTV producer & UofW Master's Program (Digital Experience Innovation)
Coffee compliments of Revel Cafe
To download the poster click here.
With the support of the Perth Community Futures and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario