Recreating Parking Spaces

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A play on words starts an international movement across the globe

Destiny Kaus
Contributor

PARK(ing) Day, a simple play on words, began in San Francisco in 2005 when Rebar Art and Design Studio reserved a single metre parking spot in downtown San Francisco, and set up a temporary public park for the day. According to parkingday.org, “PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.” The day is aimed at promoting the need for more quality public spaces in urban settings.

Since its creation in 2005, PARK(ing) Day has created 975 parks in 162 cities and 35 countries on 6 continents.

On Sept. 21, people around the globe hustled to attain parking spaces for the day, and creatively transformed them into unique public parks. Canadian participants included cities like Winnipeg, Toronto, Gatineau, and Saskatoon.

Portage Avenue in Winnipeg played host to various PARK(ing) Day displays including a “Prairie on Portage” space set up by the University of Winnipeg. Liz Williams, a participating member of this University of Winnipeg team, invited folks to come out and “take back some green space in [Winnipeg’s] downtown.”

Additionally, Jino Distasio, the director of the Institute of Urban Studies at the University of Winnipeg, acknowledged that “bring[ing] attention to urban issues and good planning is a good thing for the city."

Participating in its first ever PARK(ing) Day, Toronto’s Andrew Chiu, Timothy Mitanidis, and Marek Rudzinski showcased a large mirrored box containing balloons and a place to sit. People could sit down, take pictures, and draw on the balloons if they wanted to. Chiu and his team specifically portrayed the idea that instead of filling up space with parked cars, cities should fill up space with public parks.

Businesses in Gatineau, Quebec also joined in the festivities for their third consecutive year. The Programming Committee in Gatineau stated that businesses such as Gardens Alternative, Bike Action Ottawa, and Massage Therapy all created unique spaces on PARK(ing) Day.    

In Saskatoon, Sask. also participated in PARK(ing) Day. Organisers of the event reserved metered parking and shut down one lane of traffic in order to open up space along Broadway Avenue and 20th Street West. In a CBC interview,  Saskatoon’s PARK(ing) Day  organiser, Carrie Catherine, exclaimed that the day was a great success, with many things happening.

“We  [had] yoga classes, fitness classes, food trucks, live music, pop up fashion, retail stores…there's a little bit of something for everyone."

Along with Catherine, many Saskatoon residents were extremely pleased with the result of PARK(ing) Day in the city. Numerous businesses, social groups, and individuals showed their support by either perusing the PARK(ing) Day displays, or setting up their own temporary park. 

Apart from the creative Canadian PARK(ing) Day displays, numerous cities around the world also came up with  incredible and creative ideas. From giant balloon canopies, to silly picnic displays, to relaxing musical ambiances, cities were able to insert a bit of their own cultural and creative touches to this ever-growing social movement.

With only 7 years under its belt, PARK(ing) Day has already become a well-known global event aimed at re-envisioning empty space, and allowing citizens to create temporary public spaces in the jungles of an urban setting.

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