Portage Avenue was down several parking spots on Friday as Winnipeg joined an international movement, converting the spaces into places to play for kids, adults and even dogs.
Everything from a miniature, grassy dog park to a dock to launch paper boats was available between Carlton Street and Hargrave Street from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Little Bluestem Landscape Architecture and Design put up a fenced-in, grassy dog park, complete with a gate to keep the dogs safe inside.
“Each dog has a little QR tag on it,” said Darcy Granove, a landscape architect with Little Bluestem. “We invite [people] to use their smartphones to scan the tags and that will transport them digitally into dog parks from around North America – famous and successful ones.”
The Winnipeg Design Festival has run the event for the past three years – but this year, the theme was play, and it showed.
Robert Parashin brought his three-year-old grandson Marek, who folded an origami boat, climbed a sod hill, jumped in a hammock and played a giant game of marbles.
“We came down because I’m babysitting,” said Parashin. “It seems that Winnipeg is becoming more interesting.”
Passerbys were able to play bean bags, build wooden forts, do a quick origami workshop, dig in a sand box, launch a paper boat and take a swing in giant orange hammocks.
“It’s been pretty good. A lot of people are surprised to see it so it’s definitely stopping a lot of people who aren’t aware of parking days,” said Granove.
Sept. 19 marked international Parking Day where street artists, citizens and designers plug meters all day long to bring temporary public parks to the streets.
“It happens today around the world. It started in San Francisco where basically some guy just bought a hunk of sod and plugged the meter for a day to make a point,” said Monica Derksen, the festival co-ordinator. “Across the world it’s a little more guerilla-style than it is right here today.”
In Winnipeg, the spots were curated and mostly run by design and architecture firms – all who got prime real estate to show off their ideas.
“It’s really good for foot traffic,” said Derksen. “It’s really kid-friendly.”
The Winnipeg Design Festival runs until Sunday with a host of other events, including panel discussions, design films and a Saturday night alley party.