A variety of Canada Day activities brought the crowds out to Mississauga's brand-new Celebration Square this summer. Photo: ammiiirrrr via Flickr

Back in June, we told you about the triumphant opening of Celebration Square, in Mississauga, Ontario. The unveiling of the square was the culmination of years of efforts to create a sense of place and identity in this city of 734,000, which has long been defined by its proximity to Toronto — and its enormous mall.

Back in 2006, the City Council voted to approve PPS’ master plan for using Placemaking to bring new life to the city, “Building Mississauga Around Places:  A Vision for City Centre Park and Open Spaces in the 21st Century.” Now that vision has become a vibrant, exciting reality, and the square has turned into a hub of activity, with concerts, fireworks, movies, art exhibits, and much more bringing thousands of people out to enjoy the space.

But that’s not all. Now, as we learned from a posting on our Facebook page, some City Council members are considering the benefits of permanently closing City Centre Drive, which runs through Celebration Square, to motor vehicle traffic.

From an article in the Toronto Star:

After the city opened its downtown Celebration Square in June, pedestrians previously hemmed in by a blur of cars on Hurontario St. and Burnhamthorpe Rd. suddenly had a space to themselves.

During the square’s construction, City Centre Dr., the street that ran through its centre, was closed to traffic for almost two years.

What happened next was unexpected.

“Having the road closed really made it a vibrant square and it was great to see,” said Councillor Frank Dale. “Having seen how well it worked by having the road closed, one would say why don’t we close it forever.”…

“I feel very strongly that (City Centre Dr.) should remain closed,” Councillor Pat Mullin said at last Wednesday’s council meeting.

“(Opening it) goes against everything we’re trying to do in the downtown core and that’s to make it pedestrian friendly. I don’t know of a square anywhere that has been successful with a road going up the centre.”

Councilors remain concerned about the possibility of traffic congestion in the area, but according to the Star, the closure will be extended until October. Monitoring of traffic levels will continue through the winter, and there is a chance  that the square could be made permanently car-free.

The positive response to a car-free Celebration Square is validation of the vision Mississauga citizens started developing with PPS — at the initiative of our longtime friend and collaborator Gil Peñalosa — years ago. And it shows that despite the city’s autocentric reputation, big change can happen. We’ll keep an eye on developments.

Photo: ammiiirrrr via Flickr

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