The Dalhousie PEACH Research Unit was part of Dartmouth’s Open Street Sunday, an event that opens the street up for pedestrians, cyclists, food trucks and much more! PEACH Research Unit created an accessible, inclusive and vibrant space, for kids and adults with varied abilities to enjoy. The PEACH on the Street: Access Alderney installation was located on the Alderney Plaza and contributed to PEACH’s ongoing research project; A Tactical Urbanism Approach to Assessing the Value of Public Spaces. Onsite surveys were conducted at the event to gauge public interest around accessibility and assess public opinion on the installations and accessible furnishings. Survey responses are still being collected from anyone who wants to participate, here: PEACH on the Street survey.
The event occurred on September 19th at 12pm. Despite heavy winds at times, the sun was shining and PEACH on the Street was soon crowded with hundreds of cheerful and excited community members. PEACH on the Street welcomed people of all ages, many of whom came with strollers, bikes and dogs. Dog treats and water bowls were included in the space as well as granola bars and other sweet treats which were a big hit among the kids.
Visitors had the opportunity to learn about the importance of vibrant, inclusive spaces as well as explore the accessible installations set up by PEACH staff and volunteers. PEACH on the Street included a quiet space, giving people the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the event. The quiet space combined plants, comfy seating and lights to help people feel relaxed. Plants were a wonderful addition to the quiet space as they helped to create shade and a more enclosed feel. Many visitors also seemed to love the lounge chairs that were included in the space! PEACH on the Street also included a play space filled with toys for children. Children stayed in the play space for hours on end playing with foam blocks that were loaned from the Alderney Public Library. Accessible seating options such as a wheelchair-friendly picnic table was also found in the space, thus accommodating wheelchair users. Furthermore, clear and legible directional signages were placed along Alderney to help guide event goers in the right direction. Outdoor washrooms (porta potties) were decorated with greenery and plants to enhance the site. Many passersby mentioned how lovely the outdoor washrooms looked with the added greenery.
PEACH staff and volunteers worked diligently throughout the day setting up for the event and engaging with attendees. Communicating the importance of accessible, inclusive spaces with the community was a very rewarding experience! Many visitors were also curious about other PEACH projects and were excited about the strides PEACH is taking to create inclusive environments. Overall, the event was successful in engaging with fellow Haligonians, and by collecting survey data, we can demonstrate what more is needed in public spaces to improve accessibility. Working collaboratively as a team and having an excited, uplifting attitude produced a successful event and showed just how much can get done by working together!