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Experts’ advice: don’t be a summer city

By Chet Greason
Published in the Stratford Gazette

Three experts in cities and urban planning advise Stratford not to focus too hard on tourism.

This came at the end of a session of the Stratford Festival Forum, in partnership with the CBC radio show and podcast Ideas, at the Studio Theatre on Saturday, July 15.

The discussion, entitled The New City-State, was comprised of CivicAction CEO Sevaun Palvetzian, founder of 8 80 Cities Gil Penalosa, and Lorna Day, director of Urban Design for the city of Toronto. The event was moderated by Ideas host Paul Kennedy.

Stratford didn’t come up until the end of the program, during a question and answer period with the audience that had to be covered in only a scant few minutes. Kennedy perused a handful of questions submitted by audience members and combined the gist of many of them into one single question for the panelists: What would you change or fix in Stratford if you had the power to do so?

[…]

Penalosa, who earlier had stressed the importance of civic engagement, urged residents to take advantage of being a small city as opposed to a big one like Toronto. He reasoned that, in Toronto, it’s difficult to secure an audience with the mayor. Here in Stratford, though, “You can meet your mayor in the coffee shop.”

Penalosa had also talked extensively about those he called the gentle majority: namely, the young, the elderly, and the poor, (his organization is named after 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds, two age demographics that he says, if tailored to, will result in a livable city for everyone.)

[…]

Palvetzian, like Penalosa, also focussed on age, saying she would find every Millenial (those born between 1982 and 2004) hug them, and tell them their voices would be heard.

She noted that Baby Boomers (1946-1964) are the largest generation, but that it will be Millenials running the cities of the future.

“They know the challenges they’re facing, like transportation and day care…” said Palvetzian. “Too many problems are made because the generation out the door made the decisions for the generation coming up.”

She added that Millenials must be the architects of their own future, and should be engaged in a way that is not token, but legitimate.

“Stratford has the opportunity to do that here.”

See the full article here