'Alleys of opportunity' hold hidden potential to connect amenities, advocate says
Network of 150 kilometres of alleyways exist in Windsor
Windsor has roughly 150 kilometres of alleys — and according to one advocate, the potential of some of that space has been left untapped.
"These spaces can be transformed in ways that make them positive community anchors, while at the same time we have to be realistic and say not all 150 kilometres are going to actually be able to do that," said Frazier Fathers, who authored a 2019 report on alley revitalization.
"So it's about targeting alleys of opportunity."
Fathers hosted an online tour of some alleyways earlier this month as part of Jane's Walk, the neighbourhood tour series named for urban activist Jane Jacobs.
Because of the pandemic, this year's tours in Windsor were either self-guided or through videos hosted by community leaders.
Fathers also recently took CBC Windsor host Chris Ensing on an alley walk that can be seen in the video above, explaining that the spaces can be used to connect amenities.
For example, there's an alley that runs all the way from Mitchell Park to Bruce Park, he said.
Alleyways have a bit of a bad rap due to issues such as rodents and even drug paraphernalia. Other barriers include bad lighting and potholes.
But in areas where infrastructure issues can be addressed, there is opportunity, according to Fathers.
By his count, there are more than 40 buildings that are either owned municipally, or house schools, churches or community groups, that are directly adjacent to alleyways.
"If a school was able to take over the alleyway right next to it, suddenly, a space like this, for a school, is a 100-metre race track."