About the Post

Author Information

The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

My Sustainable Day-Cation in Oakville Part 4: Wonderful, Walkable Downtown

To my mind, nothing embodies a healthy community like a vibrant downtown.  I can’t name a single city I’ve ever been to or lived in that I liked that didn’t have a downtown characterized by flocks of people, interesting shops and, perhaps most importantly, a lot of pedestrian infrastructure.

Downtown Oakville and the Kerr Village absolutely embody this kind of downtown.  Heritage buildings blend seamlessly with newer designs, people flock to a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops and using a car to get around is not only unnecessary, it’s actually more of a hassle than parking it and walking around.

This lookout over the Bronte Marsh is just a couple minutes walk from Downtown – such a great contrast of natural heritage and urban vibrancy!

On the day of my visit, the weather could not have been more perfect.  The bright sunshine and summer temperatures certainly seemed to bring people out, and every patio we walked by was full of people.  Residents of all ages gathered in the Town Square on Lakeshore Road to eat, have a coffee, play with their children or just meet for a chat out in the sunshine.  To me, this was a perfect example of how beneficial good public space can be; it brings the community together, provides a space to be used by all residents and creates a lively atmosphere that has the effect of drawing even more people into the space.  As I sat on the patio of the Green Bean Cafe watching the hustle and bustle of the Town Square, my hosts and I discussed the policies laid out in the Livable Oakville Official Plan, which include creating more urban spaces geared towards walkability and transit use.  Creating more public spaces, more vibrant and walkable neighbourhoods and developing in a way that encourages community connectivity are driving principles as Oakville strives towards its goal of becoming the most livable city in Canada, and if that means creating more great places like Town Square, then Oakville residents really have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.

A Pedestrian plaza was installed running North along George Street, creating more public space in the downtown area.

Once we wrapped up our lunch and started walking again, the heat really started to get to me.  The sun was beating down on us and I was feeling absolutely parched.  I reached for my trusty water bottle only to discover that – *gasp!* – it was empty!  Luckily, I spotted a beautiful beacon of hydration, shining like some sort of thirst-quenching bat symbol from the window of a nearby deli, the Blue W.

Highlighting an oasis of hydration, the Blue W is proudly displayed letting thirsty travelers know that yes, it is OK to just ask for a fill up of your water bottle.

Now what, you might be asking, is a Blue W?  Well, aside from the obvious, incredibly smart-alec response (“well, it’s a W, and it’s blue in colour…”), it’s the symbol of an ingenious program that encourages residents to fill their water bottles with cool, clean tap water at any of the local establishments displaying the insignia in their window.  There’s something very comforting about knowing that you can walk into any store displaying the Blue W and ask for a fill-up of your bottle without the fear of rejection, of staff giving you a sideways glance or of them informing you that they sell bottled water if you want a drink.  To make it even better, there’s a handy map on the Blue W website (and also an App for your smartphone!) where you can go to find the nearest participating establishment, making it easy to plan your routes and your stops around fill stations.

A Deli on Kerr Street where you can get tasty salty snacks and fill your water bottle to rehydrate yourself.

Knowing that you aren’t going to run out of water and that you don’t have to buy something in order to get a refill on your bottle just seems to make everything more welcoming in downtown Oakville and Kerr Village, the areas that have some of the highest levels of participation.  It’s the kind of “soft” infrastructure that gives an area that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that makes you just want to hang out there and spend more of your time (and more importantly to businesses, your money!) there.  It’s yet another example of great infrastructure creating great spaces, and people responding by filling those spaces with activity.  So tomorrow, for my final piece on Oakville, we’ll talk a bit more about infrastructure and activity as we look at some of the active and more sustainable transportation options that are being made increasingly available to Oakville residents.  Be sure to swing by tomorrow!

Tags: , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: