Prof Studies Guelph's Major Public Spaces

July 11, 2012 - News Release

Learning how Guelph residents use three downtown civic spaces – St. George’s Square, the new Market Square and the new transit terminal – is the purpose of a study led by Prof. Lise Burcher, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development.

Her research will provide a database for the City of Guelph to explore changing use of public spaces, starting with St. George’s Square. City officials will begin public consultations this year on renewing that space.

She has observed activity and interviewed visitors to St. George’s Square, and is now studying Market Square.

“By observing how people use civic spaces throughout the daytime and evening hours, how they interact, and how long they stay in the space, planners and designers can direct their energies to site enhancements and adjustments that better meet the needs of citizens,” Burcher said. “This information will be invaluable in activity programming and space management that realizes the full potential of the space.”

This summer, Saeid Rostamibookani, a master’s student in landscape architecture, will help city officials collect and analyze the data.

The study design draws on Burcher’s work in Saskatoon during last month’s meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In Guelph, she will take various approaches to recording data, including collecting information during downtown special events this summer.

She documented activity in St. George’s Square before and after the relocation of buses to the transit terminal. She asked people where they had come from, what transportation they used, destination, and how long and how frequently they visited downtown. She also asked people about their impressions of safety, comfort and vitality in the space.

The researchers are now collecting and analyzing data from Market Square, and will then move to the transit terminal. Burcher said results expected by the fall will help establish a baseline for initiatives in all three civic spaces.

Prof. Lise Burcher
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
519-824-4120, Ext. 53986

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1