What does it take to transform a space into a place? This is a question that most people have (probably) not considered from day to day – at least not in those terms. Generally, we go to stores, restaurants, parks, events, neighbourhoods, and cities that possess alluring factors that influence behaviour on a personal level. Rarely do we stop to consider why it is that a location has drawn us to it, instead choosing to unconsciously adopt the place into our daily lives. We show our appreciation for the place through repeated visitation and the memories made while within it.

The question remains – what does it take to transform a space into a place? In most urban landscapes, such as Downtown Kamloops, public space ‘activation’ is key. By activating a public space, the hope is that people will form attachments or positive feelings toward that particular area. Activation takes many forms, from beautification and public street games to public plazas and music festivals. The methods may vary but the desired result is usually the same, and that is to attract people to an area not only once – but on a recurring basis. This is a primary objective that the CAP Team holds, and we work throughout the year to promote innovative and realistic public space activation in Downtown Kamloops.

For the CAP Team, street games are a simple yet effective way to activate a space, and I’m sure many people are familiar with the giant checkers, giant jenga, and giant connect-4 that are put out on the street during the summer months. On many occasions, these games have attracted small crowds and fostered some additional fun to a day or evening spent downtown.

We have also utilized daily and monthly events to activate space, such as Pop-Up Picnics and the Artisans Alive music program. The Pop-Up Picnics make use of green space to bring downtown employees, restaurants, and the general public together for an outdoor dining experience. The Artisans Alive music program takes otherwise vacant sidewalk space and fills it – both physically and sonically. These are examples of taking a space and creating opportunities for interaction within it. By allowing for positive interaction in a space, a place is born. Through these events, the CAP Team can build relationships in the community and make future place-making even better.

As the spring and summer approach, we look forward to seeing you downtown, enjoying what the community has to offer, and hopefully taking in the many places that contribute to the whole of downtown. It is important to remember that when activating a space, it is not the ‘where’ or ‘what’ that matter most. The most powerful part of making a ‘place’ is people – in other words, you.

This article was written by Nathan Bymoen, Customer Care and Patrol (CAP) Team Member. Reach us at 250-572-3008/3009 or the Customer Care & Info Centre at 250-572-3017. Email capteam@downtownkamloops.com. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram (Downtownkamloops) and Twitter (@downtownkamloops) too!

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