New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada (2006)

Client: Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library

The opening reception was held in a local pub and had many regional leaders to help kick-off the two days of training.

Two librarians from the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library attended the “How to Turn a Place Around” training course in New York City in May 2005. They wanted to bring the energy and skills they had witnessed back to a larger group of people within Nova Scotia, primarily librarians from around the province, and worked with local funding source providers and the Provincial government to secure the funds for the training.

PPS was brought out to New Glasgow in May of 2006 to meet the librarians, scout workshop meeting and evaluation sites, and plan out the training agenda. Then, in September, a team from PPS facilitated a three-day training course in Nova Scotia to a broad range of librarians, and town planners from around the province, municipal and provincial staff, and local retailers.

New Glasgow was used as a demonstration site because it faces many of the same challenges, issues, and opportunities as other towns throughout the province. Themes highlighted included declining population and failing downtown and neighborhood retail, underperforming waterfront parks and open spaces, and increased vehicular traffic in light of decreased pedestrian amenities and presence.

The purpose of the training course was to help participants:

  • Learn how to identify and define elements that create a successful place;
  • Develop skills and techniques for analysis and visioning of specific sites;
  • Learn about the PPS’ model of facilitating groups of local community leaders, residents and designers to work together on improving public spaces;
  • Prepare a plan of immediate, short-term, and long-term actions to improve several sites, as a demonstration; and,
  • Identify and prioritize Placemaking priorities in New Glasgow.

Elements of the training included a welcome reception with elected officials, an introduction to Placemaking presentation, a walking tour of downtown New Glasgow, a Place Performance Evaluation exercise in key areas of the downtown, a presentation on observation techniques, a session on applying Placemaking strategies to town centers throughout Nova Scotia, a public lecture to a wider audience, a debrief with the Mayor and Councilors, and time for informal discussion, networking and socializing.

Workshop participants evaluating an intersection as part of the Place Performance Evaluation exercise.

Upon returning from Nova Scotia, PPS produced a short report describing the planning process itself and outlining the key recommended short and long term improvements to the areas evaluated. The Library Staff and City officials began implementing these improvements during the fall of 2006.

PPS staff, librarians, and a community member enjoying the new plaza out in front of the library. The plaza was created after the PPS visit in May, and is complete with wireless internet, tables, chairs, and a welcome sign.