This past November, the city of Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec invited PPS President and founder Fred Kent and Senior Director of Downtowns and Main Streets Norman Mintz to spend two days observing and guiding elected officials and community leaders through a Placemaking workshop.  Tanya Abramovitch, the Côte Saint-Luc City Manager and Library Director, recently wrote to PPS to express her enthusiasm about the experience and its impact in terms of transforming the city’s center.

“It’s amazing how much can change in a single day. In November, Fred and Norman from PPS came to our city, a suburb on the island of Montreal, to give a Placemaking workshop to our Council and staff from several different departments.

Fred Kent working with a municipal employee to re-envision the city center of Cote Saint-Luc

It started with how we work. The workshop was completely transformative in terms of our internal interaction and collaboration. People from various departments have started consulting with each other on a daily basis. Every department knows what every other department is doing. Staff members who attended have really been infused with a great deal of ideas and inspiration. Many came back from the weekend after the workshop with a list of things they wanted to do. Better still, they’ve been doing them. For example, in the spirit of lighter, quicker, cheaper, (the new mantra of our city), we put lovely Christmas lights outside of City Hall to spruce up for winter.  A small change, but people have commented and love it.

Given that it has been budget time, we’ve added all sorts of items to ours to forward our Placemaking mission, which indeed has become just that – a mission. We see everything differently now through the Placemaking lens. Our Council so strongly believes in it that it has put its money where its mouth is. We’ve allocated about $25,000 to fix up the plaza in front of the City Hall/Library complex, the area where we did the place audit. We’ve also planned to change the intersection right in front of this complex, possibly with a roundabout or some pedestrian-friendly variation.

Workshop attendees discuss possible changes to the City Hall and Library complex

Now that half of the Mall across the street has been completely torn down, we wanted to get moving on the surrounding area. We met with the contractors about the Main Street plans and we completely changed them according to the principles we learned.  Thanks to PPS.”

Côte Saint-Luc faces many of the challenges that other communities of similar size must confront – a lack of cooperation between public agencies, the need for upgrading its public spaces, establishing priorities and alleviating traffic congestion, among others.  Despite these issues, Tanya’s testimonial shows that with a place-based approach villages and suburbs can enact high-impact change rapidly and effectively despite limited resources.