'Animating Waterloo Region' project asks community to help map vibrant public spaces

New online tool will allow residents to map vibrant public spaces so that visitors and other residents can find them.

The more that residents are involved, the better for the community, says UW professor.

Troy Glover, professor of recreation and leisure studies at the University of Waterloo in front of a mural at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre. He's developing an app that lets anyone identify and map animated public spaces they come across in the Waterloo Region, so that other people can find them. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

A new online tool is asking people in the community map vibrant public spaces so that visitors and other residents can find them.

These would be everyday public spaces which have been modified so that they are more attracitve and engaging to the community. 

"It could be simple approaches like greening a public space," Troy Glover, professor of recreation and leisure studies at the University of Waterloo told The Morning Edition's Craig Norris. "Or it could be things like activating a public space; trying to inject some physical activity."

The idea is particularly relevant now, Glover says because the City of Kitchener recently announced that this year, it would be giving away $60,000 in grants to these types of initiatives.

He wants to foster an appreciation for these spaces, and the efforts of the people who create them.

"We tend to get really excited about the new opening of a new public space," Glover said. "But it's the everyday usage of these spaces that really make them meaningful."

Community-driven

According to Glover, a mid-sized city like Kitchener really depends on its residents to make our public spaces more significant.

This bottum-up approach also encourages different communities to come forward and showcase themselves.

"It gives communities within our community and opp to showcase themselves and meet their own needs."

The tool works by what Glover calls "citizen science." This means residents and visitors would be gather and upload the photos of these spaces themselves to this website.

He hopes this project can help highlight areas of the region that have meaning to the community, and encourage residents to engage with their neighborhoods.