What’s up with CITYlab

Urban planning policy might not be the most exciting subject. Yet urban planning is an integral part of everyday city life – where we live, how we travel and the streets and neighbourhoods we like to visit. So how do you get people thinking and talking about urban planning and policy in new ways?

“Make it tangible, get people involved, create on-the-ground projects and make it fun,” says Jeff Chase, senior planner with CITYlab, a new work area within the Sustainable Development department. “CITYlab is an urban laboratory that supports and enables small, temporary, placemaking projects that get people talking about urban planning.”

Placemaking – projects that (re)imagine, animate and colour shared spaces – could include pop-up cafes, murals, parklets, a speaker series, design competition and other creative activities.

“CITYlab recognizes the need for new approaches that are flexible, innovative, collaborative and at times a little experimental. We hope to learn about Edmonton, spark conversations and use that to inform future policies,” Jeff says.

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CITYlab is launching with a postcard campaign – an ‘urban scavenger hunt’ of sorts – with postcards (stamp included) being left around the city. People are meant to jot down or draw their best idea to brighten up a shared space in Edmonton and drop the postcard in the mail.

CITYlab will make one of the postcard project ideas happen. The rest of the postcards will be displayed in a public space to share the range of ideas and celebrate Edmonton’s creativity.

“Our postcard campaign is just the beginning. It’s a way to introduce CITYlab and hear about the creative ideas out there,” says Jeff. “Our team will also be undertaking projects on an ongoing basis following the launch.” Jeff is one of four in the unit which includes Hani Quan, Yvonne Pronovost and Marco Melfi. The small but mighty team is keen to work with the great organizations and internal and external groups on collaborative urban planning projects.

“We know Edmontonians have great ideas for their city, but don’t always know where to start to make them happen. We want to collaborate with residents, community groups and other departments in the City. The projects CITYlab will undertake don’t require significant resources to implement, so they’re also a way to try new things without spending a lot of money.”

There are a lot great things already happening in Edmonton and CITYlab wants to contribute to the ongoing public conversation about urbanism in Edmonton and invites everyone to make some place with them.

For more information or to submit your own project idea, visit www.edmonton.ca/citylab. Also follow @PlanEdmonton for news and updates!