Thursday, April 26, 2012

Queen Street takes top spot in national competition



26 Apr 2012 07:59AM

Queen Street in downtown Fredericton has been named Canada’s Great Street in the Great Places in Canada contest.

The contest is hosted by the Canadian Institute of Planners and the results are dictated by four months of voting with more than 200,000 e-ballots cast by people from across the country. This is the second year for the contest.

The top places were selected based on popularity and planning excellence, and judged by a panel of experts.

“Fredericton’s Queen Street shone in the competition because its historical buildings, open spaces, unique shops and people-friendly sidewalks provide the ideal setting for a wide range of community activities,” said Richard Parker, one of the judges.

Martin Frigo, a member of the institute’s communications advisory committee, said New Brunswick’s capital city should be proud of the designation.

“The submission for Queen Street was just amazing and it really clearly demonstrated the qualities of Queen Street. It very much promotes social and economic diversification. It has a memorable and unique character to it. It’s such a central component in Fredericton. There’s so many different uses along Queen Street,” Frigo said.

The judges had a sense of the many activities that take place along the street year-round.

“These are very much qualities of a great street. It’s just something that Fredericton should very much be proud of. There’s a strong sense of culture and a liveliness to it,” he said.

Fredericton won out over 15 streets from across Canada, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s residential address on Sussex Drive in Ottawa,

“There was strong competition in that category,” Frigo said.

Queen Street in picturesque Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont. was another contender for the country’s greatest street, he said.

Only in its second year, the contest is growing in countrywide popularity. The first year of the contest, 75,000 Canadians voted for their favourite street, neighbourhood or public space.

This year, online voting hit the 200,000 mark, Frigo said.

“It brings out that hometown pride and a little bit of friendly rivalry,” he said.

“We have received a multitude of awards by third parties validating the kinds of things that are happing here in Fredericton and this is just another example,” said Mayor Brad Woodside.

“Queen Street is just a wonderful gem. It’s a downtown that acts as an example to the rest of the country on how downtowns not only are important and the focal point of the community, but can survive and can do quite well.”

The Canadian Institute of Planners hosts the competition because it wants to celebrate the public spaces Canadians love the most.

“The second reason is really to highlight the role that professional planners play in helping to create these great places,” he said. “We’re definitely just one of a group of professionals that do help and promote these great places.”

Ninety eligible nominations were received. The contest’s three categories include Canada’s Great Street, Canada’s Great Neighbourhood and Canada’s Public Space. Osborne Village in Winnipeg won in the neighbourhood category. The Cape Forchu Lighthouse at Yarmouth, N.S., won in the public space category.

The top locations are chosen not only because of popularity, but because of the high standards and planning principles they embrace.

Fredericton’s win will be profiled along with the other winning entries in WestJet’s inflight magazine called up! Every month, the magazine reaches about 1.4 million passengers.

“Anything that we can get in promotional material to the country or internationally is a bonus,” Woodside said. “Now what I would like is for WestJet to fly into Fredericton with their magazines so we can read them here.”

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