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CITYlab initiative encourages Edmontonians to become amateur urban planners

WATCH ABOVE: A new City of Edmonton project encourages residents to submit their ideas on how to make better use of shared city spaces. Jessica Kent explains.

EDMONTON — If you’ve ever had the urge to dabble in urban planning, now is your chance. A new City of Edmonton initiative encourages residents to submit their ideas on how to make better use of shared city spaces.

The project is called CITYlab. Organizers are looking for new, innovative place-making projects to “animate and colour our public space.”

“We’re looking to partner with residents and groups in the city on small-scale, short-term planning projects that create excitement and creativity around urban planning,” said Jeff Chase, a senior planner with the City of Edmonton’s CITYlab unit.

“We recognize that Edmontonians are full of great ideas and there’s a lot of stuff already happening in the city. We see a lot of groups and residents that are trying to do stuff and we want to support that and tap into that and really work with people in a new way to help plan and colour our city in new ways.”

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Organizers will spend the next week handing out upwards of 5,000 postcards in Edmonton. They’re asking people to write down their ideas on the postcards and mail them back to the city.

WATCH: Jeff Chase explaining the CITYlab initiative on the Morning News.

Chase says they’re looking for any and all ideas. He gave the yarn bomb public art project on Jasper Avenue and the OpenPianoYEG project, which saw pianos placed in outdoor public spaces, as examples of the types of initiatives the city would like to see.

“What’s really exciting is we have no idea what we’re going to get back.”

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READ MORE: Edmontonians invited to add the sound of music to the downtown core

Chase and other supporters of the project hit the streets of downtown Saturday afternoon to hand out postcards and the reception from the public was positive.

“I think it’s great that they’re getting people more engaged in building a city culture. I’m pretty new to the city but it means a lot to see them getting young people engaged,” said one woman who recently moved to Edmonton from Vancouver. “So far I’ve been really impressed with the activities and the different festivals and things going on in the city.

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“I think we’re kind of on the edge of being a cool, lively city and it’s nice to see a lot of people trying to make that happen.”

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Edmontonians have until March 31 to mail in their postcards. Organizers will turn the postcards into a public art installation so Edmontonians can read all the ideas that were submitted.

CITYlab staff hope to turn at least one idea into reality. A timeline for the project hasn’t been set, but organizers hope to begin work on the winning project as soon as possible.

CITYlab is also accepting submissions on its website.

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