Street Seats

Vancouver

Street Seats

An affordable parklet template for local businesses to foster community connections.

School:

SFU

Department:

RADIUS, Beedie and Semester in Dialogue

Course:

Civic Innovation Change Lab

Instructors:

  • Tamara Connell
  • Tim Ames
  • Alia Sunderji

Student Team:

  • Allison Wan | SFU Criminology
  • Joe Lee | SFU Health Sciences
  • Leah Karlberg | UBC Human Geography
  • Renée McMillen | SFU Dialogue

Strategy:

  • Healthy City Strategy

City goal area:

  • Cultivated Connections

Summary

According to Vancouver’s Preliminary Resilience Assessment, there is a need for innovation to ensure our communities are healthy, connected, and resilient. With cities becoming denser, public spaces must be creatively re-imagined to support residents within their community. Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy found that only 42% of residents between the ages of 18-39 feel safe and included in their communities. Parklets are one way to revive city space and connect community, by turning parking spots into places for people. Parklets offer three main benefits, creating vibrant and walkable spaces, increasing foot traffic for local businesses, and fostering a sense of community.

However, the current parklet application process is complicated, time intensive, and expensive. Small businesses meet difficult expectations and high costs by the end of the design process. Street Seats aims to deliver a low-barrier solution for businesses by offering a pre-approved parklet design. Think of it as a blank parklet template, for businesses to cater to their customers’ needs. With Street Seats, each business pays a flat monthly rate for their parklet, with the opportunity to renew the contract each year. We estimate that small businesses will pay 40% less with us, than the current process.

Street Seats evolved over the course of 5 prototypes and 35 interviews, with input from the public and local businesses. The student team chose to pursue Street Seats because of its passion for creating community connections and activating public spaces.

Street Seats

Next Steps

The student team hopes to speak with more businesses and gain a better sense of what an affordable monthly subscription cost would be and connect with contractor(s) to set the exact price point. As part of the business model, the student developed three phases of Street Seats, should it be stewarded:

Phase I (six months): Testing the parklet design with five local businesses.
Phase II (one year): Installation of ten permanent parklets.
Phase III (five years plus): Expand designs and work with new municipalities.