Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

September 30, 2003

City, U of G profs to visualize ‘SmartGuelph’

Two University of Guelph professors have received a grant from the City of Guelph to take a lead role in helping the city implement its recently approved SmartGuelph Principles.

Jim Taylor and Cecelia Paine of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development are conducting a three-phase project based on the SmartGuelph Principles, a long-term growth strategy that promotes a 25-year vision for Guelph as a sustainable community. Based on input from nearly 1,200 citizens, the principles form the basis of community-building and urban design decisions that will shape the future of the city. The U of G project is supported by a $25,000 grant from the city to cover graduate research assistants, survey production, analysis and production costs.

“SmartGuelph is intended to retain the city’s best qualities as it grows,” said Mayor Karen Farbridge. “But we need a collective sense of how to achieve our key principles, such as creating a city that has a unique community identity and promoting excellence in urban design. This project with the University of Guelph will allow us to work together with our citizens to create a common understanding of how we go about doing this.”

The Visual Preference Research Project headed by Taylor and Paine is designed to do just that, said Taylor, an expert in environmental planning and design. “The intent is to provide a grounding for the community-based SmartGuelph Principles that have been developed over the past two years and to develop and demonstrate future directions for urban growth. It involves us in research that has real-world applicability here in our local community.”

The project will include conducting a community survey to determine public preferences for both existing and future housing and developments in Guelph; exploring community acceptance of new urban design elements such as landscaping, architecture and housing density; and developing design scenarios to illustrate the types of development people want to see.

“The results of this research will provide useful information for the city,” said Paine, a well-known landscape architect specializing in heritage conservation. “But more importantly, it will enhance our understanding of a dimension that is often missing from our theoretical work in community design – that is, having a sense of what local residents value and accept. This study also gives me an opportunity to expand on my research aimed at understanding what places in our communities are valued and why they are valued. This knowledge can provide important insights when setting out directions for future development."

Some areas Paine and Taylor will address are:
• more efficient use of the city’s new “greenfield” land supply (open land, often farmland, that is suitable for development) and developing alternative ways greenfield development can take place;

• exploring different types of infill development (open lands within a previously built-up area) to increase density and diversity; and

• defining and establishing a community identity.

The first phase has already begun and involves reviewing research literature, collecting images of community design elements throughout Guelph and North America that demonstrate different forms of development and densities, and running focus group workshops. Phase 2, set for late 2003 and 2004, includes designing and conducting the community survey and public workshops. The final phase, scheduled for 2004/2005, will include creating and presenting design scenarios that demonstrate the application of SmartGuelph Principles.

The scenarios will also form the basis for a graduate studio in community design at U of G. “This project provides a great opportunity to link student learning and faculty research with community outreach and design, Paine said. “The best part is, we’ll be working in our own backyard, where we have a good sense of why this research is needed and how it will be applied.”


University of Guelph:
Prof. Jim Taylor
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 56870

Prof. Cecelia Paine
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 52521

City of Guelph:
Mayor Karen Farbridge
(519) 837-5643

For media questions, contact University of Guelph Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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