Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 12:30 PM

Fast Facts on Re-Imagine Churchill Square

illustration of widened sidewalks with sections marked through zone and amenity zone
On March 11, the City shared a concept plan for Churchill Square, inviting the public to provide their feedback through engagestjohns.ca and to attend information sessions, planned for March 25.
 
There has been significant interest in the project so far – more than we typically see for City projects – demonstrating the importance of the Churchill Square area to individuals in the entire City, not just local residents and business owners.
 
On social media and in the news, we’re hearing the comment that the plan doesn’t look all that different from the existing space – that the “re-imaged” Churchill Square is still a parking lot.
 
The simple answer to that is, yes; Churchill Square is a central business area and providing parking for customers, employees, and visitors to the Churchill Park greenspace is important. However, the concept plan does also envision some important changes to make the space more pedestrian, cyclist and community-oriented, with more outdoor amenities and improved accessibility.
 
Project History
In the fall of 2019 Council recognized an opportunity to coordinate planned improvements and engagement on a concept design project for the Churchill Square area. In February of 2020, the City retained Mills & Wright Landscape Architecture, a local firm, and began work on the project. The first phase involved consulting the City’s Advisory Committees and engaging the business community and the public on their vision of what a Re-imagined Churchill Square could be. 
 
On August 14, what we heard through the first round of public consultations was released. Key themes included:
  • The space needs to be pedestrian and community-oriented
  • More outdoor amenities and upgrades to current infrastructure is needed
  • Ample parking is critical to the success of businesses in Churchill Square
  • Well-spaced accessible parking, and improved accessibility of buildings is required
  • Re-configuration of traffic flow and/or parking could provide more community space
  • More greenspace and improved snow clearing
  • Better lighting
  • Improved active transportation connection to the greenspace across the street
Based on these ideas as well as feedback gathered from business stakeholders and the general public, Mills & Wright have prepared a concept plan for the Churchill Square public area. 
 
Understanding a Concept Plan
A concept plan is an early design document that is intended to establish how areas of space will be used and the general layout of the public space. This includes areas of parking, drive-aisles, and sidewalks, as well as the general locations of intersections landscaping. Concept designs provide direction for the next step of detailed design.
 
While the plans and images in the renderings show a lot of detail at this stage, many features including curb ramps and tactile warning surfaces are not shown. These features will be included in the detailed design process based on specific survey information reviewed at that stage. Some features that are shown in the concept plan such as the type of tables, bike racks, or feature colours, may not be the exact products used. A concept plan allows us to explore the functional possibilities of a space. This phase of the project and these plans and images are the first step to understanding the re-imagined vision of Churchill Square. 
 
How Can I Have Input?
The concept plan is now available at engagestjohns.ca. There have been almost 5000 visits to the page since March 11, and over 2000 people have downloaded and viewed the concept plan. By registering on the site, individuals have the opportunity to answer some simple questions on the concept which will help inform Council as it considers next steps. Staff and the consultant are also meeting with the city’s advisory committees and the business community in the square throughout this project.
 
Councillor Ian Froude, council lead for this project, is pleased with the amount of interest in Re-Imagine Churchill Square. “We are always happy to see the public engaging with us on proposed directions, and the feedback on this plan has been excellent to date,” said Councillor Froude. “That’s the whole point of engagement – to get public feedback – so the high interest in Churchill Square’s future is very encouraging.”
 
On March 25, two public information sessions are scheduled with the consultants that will provide more details on what is being considered. To register to attend, visit engagestjohns.ca for details.