Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien is encouraging residents to draw on the walls on the new ‘Imagination Station’ located downtown- with chalk.
The new information hub officially launched Thursday, and allows residents a chance to share their feedback, ideas and concerns about the city. The initiative is part of the Imagine Fredericton community engagement process that will lead to the development of a new Growth Management Strategy and Municipal Plan.
O’Brien tells Global News that the ‘Imagination Station‘, located at the corner of Queen and York streets, is a spot where the public can come in, interact, do online surveys, and share what they like or dislike about the city.
“We have a chalk board here that everybody can fill-up every day and we capture that on picture so we can get that input. We have online computers here where people can fill a survey out. We have maps where people can put dots on the parts of the city they like or dislike. We even have a little thing to teach people how to drive the round about at the top of Smythe Street,” O’Brien said.
Imagine Fredericton Citizens Advisory Committee Chairperson Sandi MacKinnon tells Global News she dropped by the station during her lunch hour, prior to the official launch. MacKinnon says there are lots of exciting things being written down in chalk and on boards in the station, from a diverse group of people and demographics- including a couple from Moncton who she says stopped by while their honeymoon.
“There are people acknowledging how great we already are, and then there’s other people that you know, I saw some comments about food security and community gardens,” MacKinnon said.
O’Brien says there are four summer students with a background in planning working at the station and engaging with the public.
Staff member Yasir Salih says part of his job is to raise awareness about about Imagine Fredericton. He tells Global News he’s talked to a lot of people about biking and the importance of sharing the road, and the need for wider bike lanes around town.
“It’s a place where people come. they give their opinion- things they want to see in the future– things that are already there they want to see improved,” Salih said.
O’Brien tells Global News he wants the public to provide as much input as possible about areas or amenities that need improvement. He says he wants to know how people envision the city in the next 25 years.
“So far, this whole process has only been open for about one month and already in one month we’ve had far more input from the public than we’ve had on other public engagement processes that have lasted three or four months.
“The response has been overwhelming and we’re just beginning. So, we’re gonna get some great, solid, community data to work with,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien officially opened the doors to the ‘hub’ along with members of the Imagine Fredericton Citizens Advisory Committee. O’Brien tells Global News that the portable container will likely also be moved to different neighbourhoods in the city to maximize engagement in the process.
“We’re going to go out and draw the information out of people so that when we come forward next year with a plan, we have a real 100 percent confidence it reflects the wants, need and vision of our community,” O’Brien said.