Building Lovable Cities

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and love is in the air – and in our cities.

In Toronto, a park is literally named, Love Park. Designed by Claude Cormier, the park includes an illuminated heart-shaped water feature. With an abundance of trees, greenery, and foliage – the park envisions romance, play, and joy as disrupters to busy urban life.

Photo Credit: Waterfront Toronto

In Vancouver, local organizations led a #FindLove initiative – filling our public spaces with giant candy heart installations and murals.

And here at home, the heart of our city – downtown – became a public amphitheater for music and the arts, with festivals like For The Love of Downtown. And creatives like Linda Hoang invited Edmontonians to show love for downtown businesses during the pandemic, with her #AdoptAShopYEG initiative.

City builders express their endearment for cities in a variety of ways. Through public spaces that enable people to gather and connect – and to kiss and show public displays of affection. Through gestures of inclusion and belonging with rainbow crosswalks. Through housing where people find shelter. Through the orchards and gardens where people can get their hands dirty. Through their advocacy for downtowns.

“We show love in our cities by building communities where people can express themselves, feel safe and plan for a future,” said Mike Yochim, Vice President of Operations and Landrex. “This can be accomplished by developing gathering places, integrating community programs, and welcoming all people.”

Yochim’s work helps to create neighbourhoods that accommodate people with affordable housing, open spaces, and access to amenities and services.

For Steven Knight, owner of Five Star Holiday Décor, cities show care for the people that live within them through engaging activations in the public realm.

“We need to create communities that people want to spend their time in,” Knight said.

Knight works with developers like Yochim to light up spaces with decorative and interactive lighting solutions, that he says brings excitement and joy to residents. Recent research shows that people find and experience joy, love and positive emotions in places like parks, green spaces, and eateries.

Matt Abaya, Business Development Manager at Hi Signs says the most lovable cities include welcoming urban places where people feel proud and happy to live, work, and visit.

He and his team contribute to this goal by fabricating wayfinding and signage that help to express cultural identity, promote a sense of community ownership and pride, and support people with disabilities with navigation.

“Wayfinding not only can be used to signal solidarity with communities, it can help residents and tourists navigate space with ease and help make these areas more accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.”

While our love for Edmonton is growing, our relationship with the city was, at times, strained, said Michaela Davis, Development Manager with Melcor.

“In Edmonton, we fell out of love with things like parking minimums or restrictive regulations that serve as barriers to creating housing – things that municipalities in Edmonton Metropolitan Region are addressing.”

Davis explained how the region is working towards more livable and lovable communities through policy changes.

“We’re excited to see municipalities drafting regulations that welcome people, enable housing options, and bringing neighbourhoods and neighbours together through amenities and accessible spaces.”

This Valentine’s Day, share with us how you are helping to make cities more lovable with the hashtag #UDILoveCities.