Stratford residents asked to 'social pinpoint' ideas on waterfront plan

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the number of people who can gather to share thoughts on Stratford's 'front porch,' so the Town of Stratford is using something called social pinpointing to harvest residents' ideas for the waterfront.

'We really want as many residents as possible to chime in here'

The statue of Michael Thomas is now accessible to the public as part of the waterfront development in Stratford. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

The Town of Stratford is trying a new way of reaching out to residents to get their ideas for the community's waterfront.

The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the number of people who can gather to share their ideas in person, so the town is using something called social pinpointing.

"You can go online, you can drop a pin where you think you might like to make a comment on what you would like to see in that waterfront," said town councillor Jill Burridge.

"There's discussion items there. People are going back and forth with some discussion items and it's a great place to interact." 

Stratford residents can go online and drop a pin where they want to make a comment on what they would like to see on the waterfront. (Town of Stratford)

The ideas so far include a community oven and event shelter, a beer garden patio, more bike and walking paths and public art.

"I think people are looking for a connection to the water — potentially a small launch for kayaks and paddleboards," Burridge said.

"Maybe what we should plant, [such as] wildflowers to help the bees. They want to make sure that we include the active transportation network and that we can drive that through our park, which is important."

Jill Burridge calls the waterfront the 'front porch' of the community. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Many of the comments involve ways to connect paths on the two sides of the Trans-Canada Highway, and across the Hillsborough Bridge to Charlottetown.

"I think for us to be successful, this waterfront plan has to mirror the pulse of our community, and we really want as many residents as possible to chime in here," Burridge said.

"This is our front porch of our community. It's going to be vital to our town down the road, so the engagement is the biggest key to our success in this project." 

Likes and dislikes

The social pinpointing also addresses constraints for the waterfront plan, and participants have raised questions about parking, as well as the privacy of residents in the new apartment building on the waterfront.

Burridge said all of the feedback is important and residents are encouraged to like and dislike the ideas that are already there. 

"I think that's good, there's nothing wrong with that. We want to create an environment where people can come forward with their ideas," she said.

"Hopefully through that process, we can find where opinions may diverge. We can in the process create a space where we can kind of bring those ideas together and maybe find some common ground."

Green space on either side of the Trans-Canada Highway will be part of the new waterfront plan. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Burridge said there will also be in-person sessions to talk about the waterfront plan on Oct. 22, with online sessions scheduled for Oct. 28 and 29.

One year from now

With the sewage plant being decommissioned by the end of the year, the town hopes work on the Stratford waterfront can begin in 2021.

The goal is to have the engagement and design work done through the fall and winter so that the project is ready to move forward next spring.

Burridge said the goal is to have the sewage plant decommissioned by the end of the year so that work on the waterfront can begin in 2021. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"One year from now? I would love to see that we have started to create some meaningful places for people to come down and enjoy on a Saturday afternoon or Friday evening," Burridge said. 

"People starting to be able to really spend some quality time, down here on our waterfront." 

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Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog.


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