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Chances are, you have a special place – a place you visit for no other reason than you simply enjoy being there.
It may be a park, a square, a street, or a neighbourhood. There's something about it that you connect to – perhaps because it's off the beaten path – or because it's lively and bustling – or because it's out of the ordinary.
For whatever reason, it's a place you keep coming back to. A location that inspires and delights you.
Canadians across the country are drawn to streets for a multitude of reasons, but there are special streets, even portions of streets, that attract and retain people because of unique features, services, functions, and ambiance. That particular street can be special to the residents and regular users and it can be memorable to the one-time visitor, drawing them back time and again. In all cases, these streets convey a feeling and a presence that is Canadian, be they aboriginal, small or large, urban or rural communities.
Recognizing and acknowledging these streets is a way to learn more about Canada, and show how welcoming this country can be. As a gathering place, as a destination, and as an anchor for the people of a community, some streets excel in multiple ways—offering diversity for all who come there and being accessible to people with disabilities.
There can be no set formula for what makes a street special, but there are indicators that might help. A street that is inviting, friendly, welcoming, festive, joyful and safe and a street that is active day and night, supported by abutting landowners and tenants and well maintained is a street which would fall into the category of special.
Socializing with others is a basic human need. People have been gathering in planned public spaces such as plazas, town squares and other commons for centuries.
A public space is part of a neighbourhood, downtown, special district, waterfront or other area that creates social interaction and a sense of community. Examples are plazas, town squares, parks, marketplaces, public malls, greens, piers, special areas within convention centres or grounds, sites within public buildings, lobbies, concourses, or even public spaces within private buildings.
A great public space has distinct characteristics, identity, and ability to attract people from all walks of life, in all seasons that make it special. Citizens feel a sense of ownership over a great public space. People like to linger there because it is safe, comfortable and welcoming. Flexibility is a key characteristic of a great public space; it accommodates a wide range of activities: formal or unplanned, organized or spontaneous. Great public spaces are the places in a community where everyone has the opportunity to participate in civic life.
Neighbourhoods define our communities. Canadians that live in big cities, towns, and even small villages often identify themselves, in part, as residents of a neighbourhood where they feel at home, obtain basic services, and benefit from parks, places of worship, and other public and institutional facilities.
A neighborhood is loosely defined as people living near one another or a section of a community lived in by neighbors and usually having distinguishing characteristics and a definable boundary. A neighborhood can be based on a specific plan or the result of a more (natural) organic process. In order to be recognized as a great neighborhood there are a number of features, characteristics, and attributes that can be evaluated to determine how a particular neighborhood rates against other neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods selected for a Great Neighborhood designation must exhibit qualities with lasting physical and natural elements that will continue to be valued by successive generations.