Who we are: The Gaukel St. Community Group is a group of downtown community members, neighbourhood associations, and businesses, and we want to bring your ideas and feedback to City of Kitchener staff, who are working on a long-term plan for redesigning Gaukel St.
In summer 2020, the City of Kitchener installed planters and colourful picnic tables on Gaukel Street so people could gather with friends and family in a socially-distanced way, or bring a take-out meal outside for lunch. They also installed string lights above to make a nice evening ambiance.
Musicians have been known to get together and jam outside on Gaukel Street, and everyone from seniors to young kids and families were able to enjoy the space while maintaining social distancing.
Artist Luke Swinson painted some wonderful illustrations of animals, inspired by our relationship to the land and animals around us.
The proposed 2020 Kitchener budget includes funding for a Gaukel Street Closure in 2020 and 2021. This is the result of incredible hard work and advocacy by community members, business leaders, staff and our city Council. This budget proposal follows up the City of Kitchener's decision to include Gaukel Street as a pedestrian route in its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.
Urbanist Brent Toderian says, "The truth about a city's aspirations isn't found in its vision. It's found in its budget." We're so happy to see the commitment to Gaukel Street being realized in the 2020 budget!
Update: the budget was passed! Thanks to everyone who took the 2020 Budget Survey to express your support for the Gaukel Street closure!
From September 26-29, 2019, we created a public gathering place on the roadway of Gaukel Street. For 4 days, residents and visitors relaxed at the tables and chairs, played games with friends and family, took in the music and theatre performances, and enjoyed free coffee and snacks. (View the event page)
The park was open to all, 24 hours a day, throughout the entire 4 days, to match our vision of a permanent park. We observed families with children, seniors, youth, and young adults, all using the space at different times of day for different purposes. Whether creating chalk art, playing basketball, watching a music performance, or sitting with a friend for lunch, we were extremely glad to see the incredible diversity of people that were attracted to the Gaukel St. Pop-Up Park.
In particular, the music and theatre acts brought crowds of people to appreciate Gaukel Street and helped them imagine how it could become a permanent pedestrian space. We received over 250 surveys from attendees, who gave us their thoughts on what they'd like to see in a pedestrianized Gaukel Street.
One of the greatest indicators of success was seeing people approach the pop-up park with their own ideas and activities. For example, a bike polo group arrived, playing an impromptu game of bike polo and teaching curious onlookers how to play the game. One afternoon, a local arcade, AOK Arcade Bar, brought some portable video games onto the street for anyone to enjoy.
City of Kitchener staff went above and beyond to support the Gaukel Street pop-up park! Staff from Kitchener Events, Neighbourhood Development, Planning, Operations, and Transportation all helped to make this a success. They took care of so many details to help the event run smoothly and provided additional funding so that we could afford amenities like an accessible porta-potty and overnight security for the event.
During the pop-up park, we asked people to fill out a survey with their thoughts on turning Gaukel Street into a car-free space. Here's what we heard!
Total responses: 258
|I live here||165||64%|
|I attend events here||162||63%|
|I meet up with friends here||149||58%|
|I shop here||139||54%|
|I have errands / appointments here||118||46%|
|I work here||113||44%|
|Planters, trees, greenery||210||81%|
|Seating, tables, chairs, benches||178||69%|
|Events, vendors, markets||158||61%|
|Dedicated bike lane||107||41%|
|Performance space, stage||90||35%|
|Permanent shops, kiosks||51||20%|
Keep in touch with community members who are discussing the future of Gaukel Street.
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