Author: Brock Parkin

Better Cities Film Festival 2023!

The St Catharines Edition of the Better Cities Film Festival returns from Oct. 27th – 29th, 2023, curated Better Neighbourhoods Inc. and co-sponsored by Main Street Engineering. This film festival seeks to bring important discussions out of City Halls, academic lecture rooms and conference centres to bring planning, urban design and city-building conversations to the community. Join us for neighbourhood walking tours, film screenings, panel discussions and more! This pay-what-you-can event is designed to inspire and empower communities to collaborate in the project of city-building. Enjoy a series of films to complement locally-relevant city-building topics such as active transportation, housing, grassroots placemaking, and the economics of urban growth.

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Speech bubble graphic with text, "our comments".

Our Comments on the Draft Niagara Official Plan

The consolidated Draft Niagara Official Plan defines how Niagara will use its available land to shape the physical, economic, and social development of the region over the next 30 years.

The Niagara Region is growing and diversifying, which necessitates carefully constructed and appropriate policy changes that encourage the development of neighbourhoods that are diverse, walkable, safe, sustainable, and provide a sense of place.

Amongst the many policies of the Official Plan that may be necessary to fulfil this objective, Better Neighbourhoods has focused on 9 aspects of development that we believe should be incorporated.

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Mohammad Kamruzzaman hold a 2017 Merit Award.

CACPT Infill Design Award – 2017

Congratulations to our Mohammad Kamruzzaman, the 2017 CACPT Infill Design Award recipient. The Canadian Association of Certified Planning Technicians has recognized Mohammad for his exceptional work on our project to redevelop the site of the abandoned Welland South School on Broadway in Welland, Ontario.

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The Story of Village on the Twelve

Village on the Twelve will be comprised of about 300 housing units within 16 Acres. The Concept Plan includes many forms of housing that cater to the many facets of the market in St. Catharines. Traditional Development Design principles were utilized to create a cohesive and high quality “sense of place” that appeals to potential buyers and maximizes property values.

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Kahlin Holmes and Mohammad Kamruzzaman hold a 2019 Merit Award.

CACPT Infill Design Award Winner – 2019

We are proud to announce that our Certified Planning Technician, Mohammad Kamruzzaman, has been awarded with the 2019 Merit Award for Infill Design by the Canadian Association of Certified Planning Technicians. This award is in recognition for his outstanding work on Summerside Mews, a development project located south of the Pelham Community Centre in East Fonthill, Ontario.

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Rendering of McKinnon Park Site Plan.

GM Parking Lot Transformation

We are excited to have been hired to work with Bayshore Group to design and develop the site of the vacant GM Factory in St. Catharines. Better Neighbourhoods has utilized Traditional Neighbourhood Design principles to transform this parking lot into a walkable and vibrant addition to the Haig neighbourhood.

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Give’em What They Want

Detroit, as with many large US cities, is absent of residential life in its dowtown…but, there are signs of regeneration and life.  All vacant buildings in the downtown were in some state of rehabilitation with a growing residential marketplace desperate to make the downtown home once again.  This trend was so prevalent that new buildings were starting construction on vacant parcels.  Something’s going on here…how does this happen?  What’s driving this influx of people back to cities?

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Congress For the New Urbanism 2016 – Detroit

We are back from Detroit, and our annual pilgrimage to the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU 24).  As many know, Detroit, MI went bankrupt in July 2013.  So, as urbanists, we were both curious and intrigued to see how the images of vacant and boarded-up buildings (those that remained) could be transformed.

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New Name, New Direction

As of October 1st, 2015, Glenn E. Barr Associates was renamed as Better Neighbourhoods Inc.

Operating as Barr Associates, the company was originally founded in 1976 and has offered development consulting services to the Niagara Region for almost 40 years.

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A busy street in New York City with many taxies and cars on the street.

Congestion: The Antithesis of Good Planning Practice or an Opportunity?

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) released an article on how the negative stigma associated with congestion is not inherently bad and that we often underestimate its impact on a city. The article outlines a list of suggestions on how to turn “bad” congestion into something that might positively affect the future of urban design.

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