It’s about time! A quick and easy way to list and find space to rent

By: Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces Consultant, Calgary Arts Development

Just over five years ago I was asked to help find spaces for three functions: an auditorium for my kids’ school’s spring concert, a boardroom for my favourite non-profit’s AGM, and an office space for an arts organization. After hours of phone calls and web searches I thought that there must be a one-stop online listing of all the bookable space.

And there was—in New York City. It was called Spacefinder and it was developed by NYC’s Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

SpaceFinder is now in Alberta. With the support of the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Calgary Arts Development has partnered with ArtsBuild Ontario, Arts Habitat Edmonton with the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, and Fractured Atlas to bring SpaceFinder to Albertans. SpaceFinder is an free marketplace for hourly, daily, weekly and long-term rentals. This online tool to help Albertans get more use out of existing space. Less existing space will go under-used less often.

SpaceFinder Alberta is live online and looking for people who need space. This free online marketplace links organizations with space to rent with those who need space. It is free to list. It is free to search. Did I mention it was free?

SpaceFinder helps venues efficiently find suitable users for their under-used space through this online tool. And it helps users find suitable space by streamlining the search for appropriate and affordable space.

The momentum is growing. In addition to Alberta, SpaceFinder has launched in Toronto and is underway in other regions of Ontario as well as BC and Manitoba.

SpaceFinder Alberta meets a dire need in our communities. Many groups in the creative, non-profit and small business communities need space for meeting, creating, rehearsing, presenting, collaborating, gathering or celebrating. They spend a lot of time trying to find suitable and affordable spaces—and SpaceFinder Alberta provides that information on a one-stop-shopping site, free of charge.

SpaceFinder Alberta can help venues reach new prospects, respond to inquiries and confirm appropriate renters very efficiently. Organizations spend significant resources trying to find the right renters for their spaces. Organizations can list their spaces free of charge on SpaceFinder Alberta. Help is available at calgaryartsdevelopment.com. Or in the Edmonton area, contact Arts Habitat Edmonton at artshab.com.

What kinds of spaces can be listed on SpaceFinder Alberta? Any space that supports creative uses in our communities. For many Albertans, arts spaces are where the arts are presented to audiences. But spaces are needed for every link in the value chain including creation space, rehearsal space, production space, warehouse and storage space and office space through to presentation and performance space. SpaceFinder Alberta lists spaces to support all disciplines. It supports community arts, professional arts and education in the arts.

Realtors know their community and its facilities. Venues listed on SpaceFinder Alberta include educational, commercial, faith-based, industrial, and institutional spaces. They can be for-profit and not-for-profit. They can be downtown or in suburbs.

If you know of a venue that makes space available, ask them to list their space on SpaceFinder Alberta. If you know of a group that is searching for space, please tell them about SpaceFinder Alberta. SpaceFinder Alberta: List a space. Find a space. For free.

In Conversation: Neighbourhoods and the Future of the Suburb

By: Design Talks (d.talks)

In May d.talks hosted “Let’s talk about…neighbourhoods,” a conversation exploring the relationship of built form with the potential for growth. Supported in part by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and open to the public, the discussion fused perspectives on housing, urban design, planning, development and the social fabric of our neighbourhoods.

We wondered what role design might play in creating adaptability. What might the suburb 2.0 look like?

Calgary is a collection of neighbourhoods. What Calgary’s streetcar in the early 1900s and today’s LRT system allow is the opportunity to define neighbourhoods with multiple kinds of mobility in mind. We wondered how urban habitat might evolve and how everyday errands might be done differently in a future suburb.

June Williamson—author of Designing Suburban Futures as well as co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs—showed the significant role design plays in “bettering” existing built form. Jamal Ramjohn, the Manager of Community Planning at The City of Calgary, surveyed the evolution of community form. Over six decades there is a return to rethinking the grid.

The relationship of policy and design was explored. Susanne Schindler, in sharing a multi-year research project called House Housing: An Untimely History of Real Estate, identified how housing alternatives are shaped. And sharing a Zurich cooperative housing example that blends micro-units, cluster-living, mixed income and seniors…what opportunities might allow housing to align with lifestyle changes over time?

Grace Lui, Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Brookfield Residential, brought observations on livability indexing and the opportunity to transform single-use institutions like schools or libraries with shared-use alternatives. Urban Sociologist Jyoti Gondek, the Director of the Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business, deepened the definition of a suburb. Communities in Calgary’s Northeast are flush with multi-generational families, forcing a re-think on the scale of some single family homes. What if density were defined as persons per unit instead of households per acre?

We heard: design nimbly and revitalize vacancy with alternative uses. Reconnect individuals with community and consider sharing. Today we lease phones and share cars, what will tomorrow’s generation of residents be sharing? A question from the audience asked how backyards might become shared laneway between homes. For now, the future is open with room for alternatives to emerge over time.

For more information on other d.talks events please visit: dtalks.org.

How much do Albertans love the wilderness?

By: CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter

Alberta is home to an amazing landscape and Albertans know it. You can hop in your car and be in the middle of wilderness in little more than an hour.  The accessibility to nature and getting outside is an incredible draw and asset to this province.  Although we know Albertans are drawn to the outdoors, CPAWS wanted to dig deeper and ask Albertans about our parks and wilderness, specifically are they spending time outdoors, what activities are they doing and what are their values and attitudes towards nature?

To do this, CPAWS commissioned a province wide poll, funded in part by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, on Albertans’ recreation and wilderness values. The survey, created with input from academics, partners, stakeholders and most importantly an outside consultant (the Praxis Group), was designed to be credible and statistically representative of all Albertans.   Although recreation surveys have been done in the past, none of them have encompassed both outdoor activities and wilderness values on a province-wide scale.

Then Need

At CPAWS we felt we needed to get a better and more comprehensive understanding of how Albertans are using the land to help inform better planning decisions for the future of Alberta. As Alberta’s population grows, more people are getting outside and into our parks and wilderness areas. We wanted to learn about what is actually happening on the landscape.  With more demand, low impact sustainable recreation is going to play a bigger role and we will need to properly plan in order to safeguard environmentally sensitive areas.

Recent concerns about infrastructure-based commercial development in places like Banff National Park despite huge public opposition and lack of demand, and high impact activities, like motorized recreation, that have a significant impact in places like the Castle and Ghost, indicate a need to look at what people want from their outdoor experience and how they value our wilderness areas. We need to make sure that land-use decisions are in the interests of the majority of Albertans and that we protect and grow our amazing parks and wilderness areas in the province, reflecting Albertans’ values.

Results

The results of the survey showed that 76% or three quarters of all Albertans get outside and enjoy the wilderness of Alberta on a regular basis! The majority value quiet recreation and 88% want more wilderness protection.  It is important to note that most Albertans are engaging in low impact recreation like hiking and camping and that that 86% prefer non-motorized recreation.

Some other key stats from the survey are:

  • 76% participate in some form of outdoor recreation
  • 98% want protection of water to take precedence over industrial development
  • 88% want governments to preserve more wilderness
  • 94% of Albertans believe that wilderness areas are important because they preserve plant and animal species
  • 86% prefer non-motorized recreation in wilderness areas over motorized recreation
  • 83% want wilderness protected and left in its natural condition even if these areas are never visited by, or benefit, humans.

So clearly, Albertans love and strongly value their wilderness areas. The most surprising result for CPAWS was that 83% of Albertans indicated that they wanted wilderness protected even if they never visit those areas. This tells us that people recognize the value of nature and they are willing to make tradeoffs to protect it for future generations.

The survey results have been shared widely with municipalities, recreation groups, the real estate industry, government officials and land managers so that this information representing Albertans can be used in formal land use decisions and recreation planning.  CPAWS feels the project has been rewarding is making an impact.  We have had people and groups quoting the survey results in meetings, pushing for land use practices that are representative of the majority Albertans.

What is next? CPAWS will make sure the results are widely available and continue to make efforts to present, share and promote this important work. CPAWS wants to see decision-makers have the information they need to plan for the protection of the environment such as headwaters, forests and wildlife corridors while considering the needs of the multiple recreation users in Alberta.

We are also working on encouraging people to get outside and sustainably connect with nature through outreach and creation of a series of videos highlighting sustainable recreation opportunities in Alberta. The first video highlights snowshoeing in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

Now that we know how much people appreciate these areas, we hope they will be empowered to be stewards of our parks and wilderness areas and use their voices to advocate for better land management and more protected areas in our province. We can enjoy economic benefits, great recreational places and prioritize ecologically sensitive areas. We can have an even better Alberta, we just need to plan for it.

To read the full report on Albertans’ Values and Attitudes Towards Recreation and Wilderness visit http://cpaws-southernalberta.org/campaigns/survey-albertans-want-more-wilderness-protected