Called “Walk Your City” the campaign is modelled after a similar one launched last year in Raleigh, North Carolina, said Robin McPherson, a member of the Downtown Development and Revitalization Committee, which proposed it here.
The campaign features signs posted in strategic downtown locations, indicating how long it will take to walk to another downtown destination, McPherson said.
For example, a sign at the Carlisle St. Parking Garage will indicate how long it takes to walk to Montebello Park, or a sign on St. Paul St. will provide the walking time to the Centennial Library.
Each sign will have a QR code, which can be scanned for more information about the destination, she said. The walking times are based on Google projections, which allow for a leisurely pace, McPherson said. Most are between 5 and 8 minutes, with the longest being 19 minutes to walk from the train station on Great Western St. to the corner of Ontario and St. Paul.
Walk Your City encourages people to travel on foot by “breaking the barrier that everything is far away or you have to park right in front of where you are going,” McPherson said. “Most people think it takes a long time to walk somewhere but really it's not that far.”
In Raleigh, founder Matt Tomasulo launched the campaign as a guerilla tactic, posting foamboard signs on utility poles with plastic cable ties under the cover of darkness. Raleigh officials removed the signs because they violated that city's sign bylaw, but they were eventually approved and returned, McPherson said. In St. Catharines, the city will spend $1,000 on 25 metal signs for the first phase, which will highlight a dozen downtown attractions, McPherson said.
Walk St. Catharines is “an inexpensive and flexible tool through which to promote the downtown's assets and promote walkability,” wrote Scott Ritchie, the city's urban design planner in a report to council. “We are trying to make it pleasant to walk,” McPherson said. “Walking is good for you.”
Destinations being featured in the first phase of Walk Your City:
- Market Square
- Centennial Library
- Centennial Park
- Rodman Hall
- Jack Gatecliff Arena
- Montebello Park
- Merritt Trail
- James St. commercial area
- St. Paul St. commercial area
- Bus terminal
- Train station
- Niagara Artists Centre