Taking back the public realm

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We have the right to demand safe, well-designed streets

By Paul Shaker and David Premi

Look at any number of contentious debates in cities today and they often are about control of the “public realm.” What is this “public realm” we always hear about? It is most commonly defined as any municipally owned street, pathway, right of way, park, publicly accessible open space and any public and civic building and facilities. It is literally the space owned by the citizens of a city. It is planned, managed and maintained by the municipality on behalf of the citizens.

The public realm is where we live when we are not in our homes or place of work. It is where we walk, move from shop to shop, eat on outdoor patios, throw a Frisbee, jog, watch parades and running races. The public realm hosts events, parades, markets and festivals. It is this public realm that residents and visitors move through, and upon which they judge the quality of a city. It is a big part of how people decide whether they would like to visit, live or work in one place over another.

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Article source: The Hamilton Spectator

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