Love Your Laneways Proposal

Table of Contents

1. Background/Context

2. Purposes

3. Objectives

4. Outcomes

5. Some Critical Tasks/Actions

6. Other Project Examples

7. References/Resources

1. Background/Context

The plans for infrastructure renewal along King Street have been in the works for a number of years. The need to eliminate combined sanitary/stormwater sewer lines to stop the discharge of sewage into the Bay provided an opportunity to develop a long-term downtown improvement plan (Downtown Master Plan and Community Improvement Plan – June 2015) and more recently the King Street Rejuvenation plans (March 2018). In both these cases, improvements to Borsa Lane and Bourgeois Lane fit with the stated objectives. The latter was specifically mentioned in the January, 2017 presentation to Council regarding downtown rejuvenation.

Aspects of the Downtown Master Plan that are specifically relevant include: improvement of general appearance of the downtown; lighting of the two laneways to make them “safer and more welcoming at night”; one of the Twenty Key Initiatives – “encourage repairs and renovations through a contributing grant program”; Facade improvement – front and rear entrances. The Community Improvement Plan (CIP) has a “Facade Improvement Grant” that applies to both front and rear entrances.

The November, 2018 Environmental Protection Report by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario highlighted the need for municipalities to replace combined sanitary and stormwater pipes. It also promoted the use of Green infrastructure (e.g. permeable surfaces, rainwater gardens, green roofs) as a means of reducing surface and stormwater flowing into combined sewers. Funding for such projects appears to be available through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Ontario’s Trillium Foundation.  Laneway improvements using Green technologies offer an opportunity to mitigate the negative effects of surface and stormwater mixing with sanitary sewage over the short-term during the King Street infrastructure renewal work. Over the long-term, such measures will benefit the downtown both aesthetically and by reducing flooding during storms.

It is unavoidable that there will be disruption while King Street is dug up for the necessary infrastructure replacement. Using the two parallel laneways, with their access to parking and side streets, as a means of ensuring easy entry into businesses is one way to encourage people to continue coming downtown. However, the existing condition of the laneways and most rear entrances are not conducive to attracting customers/clients. The “Love Your Laneways” initiative will result in improved and enhanced access, and opportunities for downtown businesses to take a pro-active approach in dealing with the “Big Dig”.

Improving laneways and alleys has become a common practice in cities and towns around the world. There are many relevant examples and much expertise to draw on. The timing is right for Midland to take advantage of these resources and begin the process of enriching our downtown experience, while at the same time providing some needed support for King Street businesses.

2. Purposes

2.1. To provide a framework, direction and encouragement for improving the downtown laneways as a means of mitigating negative effects of the King Street infrastructure construction project.

2.2. To encourage the use of various means to divert rainfall and stormwater from the sewer system.

2.3. To complement King Street improvements by adding the laneways as a prominent feature of a rejuvenated downtown.

3. Objectives

3.1. Create a sense of positive opportunity rather than anxiety regarding the King Street infrastructure project.

3.2. Develop commitment from businesses, the BIA, town staff and Council.

3.3. Involve the youth of Midland in the project.

3.4. Create a Love Your Laneways Action Committee to provide coaching for businesses that want to enhance/improve laneway access.

3.5. Identify resources (financial and experienced people/organizations) that will encourage and aid laneway improvements.

3.6. Provide clearly defined processes for any required approvals and/or consultation with the Town (e.g. CIP).

3.7. Implement a wide range of improvement options, techniques and ideas for the laneways and related access points to businesses.

3.8. Support programming/events that encourage laneway use.

3.9. Replace hard surfaces with gardens/permeable substances.

4. Outcomes

4.1. Laneways that are attractive, safe and functional.

4.2. Improved and inviting access from laneways to King Street businesses that encourages people to use the laneways.

4.3. Citizens of Midland are well informed about the project and feel positive about coming downtown during the King Street infrastructure construction.

4.4. A spirit of collaboration and cooperation between the Town, businesses and all those involved with the infrastructure improvement and downtown rejuvenation projects.

5. Some Critical Tasks/Actions

5.1. Consultation/Collaboration
Meet with Town staff, BIA
Prepare a list of other organizations/people to bring into the planning process (e.g. Quest, Youth Committee, Rotary, Midland Garden Club)

5.2. Communication
Develop a communication plan
Arrange public meeting with laneway improvement “experts”
Establish a Facebook page and/or page on Town’s website

5.3. Research/Preparation
Create the Love Your Laneways Action Committee (LYLAC)
Create a list of funding/grant sources with contact information
Create a list of experienced people/organizations with contact information
Develop a Work Plan, Task/Responsibilities, Timeline, etc.
Develop an inventory of ideas/examples of improvement methods, techniques and support information (e.g. suppliers, types of paint, lighting,etc.)
Develop a vision and conceptual plan for the two laneways
Create list of guidelines and approvals (where necessary)

5.4. Implementation
Organize targeted fundraising
Create plans for “Quick Win” projects
Carry out “Quick Win” projects
Develop plans for next phase projects

6. Other Project Examples

6.1. Hamilton:
The city is working on transforming laneways into “vibrant public spaces” as a way of mitigating the negative effects of the LRT construction project which will cause major disruption along its road-aligned route.

Hamilton Alleyways Project (Green Venture). From March 2017- March 2018, volunteers helped revitalize three alleys (Lottridge, Sherman and Trocadero) into more dynamic, greener spaces.

6.2. Toronto: The Laneway Project
The Laneway Project is an organization that believes “laneways have the potential to be vibrant, living spaces, and that thriving public spaces help create strong neighbourhoods, communities and cities.”
They have worked on many projects both in and outside Toronto.

6.3. Vancouver:
Pink Alley (“AlleyOop”) is a hot Instagram site for both locals and tourists and has become a place of socialization and play.

Granville Island is a major shopping district and tourist destination. It has numerous lanes and alleyways.

Graffiti Alleys have become popular in Vancouver, partly because they encourage more people to come to locations that were hangouts for the homeless and drug users.

Alley Behind F as in Frank has become known for its murals and thrift shops.

6.4. RAIN Community Solutions:
RAIN works with municipalities, environmental groups and property owners to reduce runoff and protect water quality. It offers workshops, displays, demonstration projects, consultation and planning. RAIN has a track record of successful projects in cities around Ontario including Thunder Bay, Kingston, Peterborough and Collingwood.

7. References/Resources

7.1. Laneway/Green Initiative Links:

7.2. Midland Documents:
Town of Midland Downtown Master Plan, June, 2015

King St. Rejuvenation. Council Presentation, January 11, 2017

King St. Rejuvenation. Public Information Centre 2, March 19, 2018