The city of London has been doing some serious work over the past 20 years to improve the experience that the city provides to its residents. Now, the city is taking on arguably its most ambitious project yet: Dundas Place Flex Street.
Dundas Place Flex Street has the potential to be a total game changer. Dundas Street will become hands-down the most exciting public area in London. It will be more than just a space to move through – it will become a destination to arrive at for shopping, leisure, and celebrations.
Sounds ambitious right? But why does London want to do this and how is it going to be accomplished?
Past City Improvement Projects
The Downtown Millennium Plan of November 1998 was the last significant city improvement plan implemented by London’s City Council. There were a series of projects and initiatives that were completed, including Budweiser Gardens, Central Library, and Convent Garden Market. The success of this plan is apparent. Each project has added a substantial amount of value to London.
Now there is a sequel plan called the Our Move Forward Plan. It involves completing another series of projects that will continue to transform London as a city.
The Our Move Forward Plan was established within an extensive public engagement process that included public workshops. The last public engagement session took place in October 2013, in which ten transformational projects were unveiled. The public was given an online survey asking for feedback on these projects. The responses taken from the engagement session and online survey helped to prioritize the projects in the plan.
The responses from the public indicated that giving Dundas Street a complete makeover is a top priority and a clear next step in the revitalization of downtown. The project is called “Dundas Place Flex Street” and the goal of the project is to transform the way people experience Dundas Street by turning it into a flexible street.
A Flexible Street? What is That?
Trust us when we say there is no yoga or stretching involved here. The reason it’s called a “flexible street” is because of its adaptability. On the average day it will be a plaza where pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists can co-exist and go about their daily life. However, it can easily be shut down to vehicle traffic and be converted into a venue to host entertainment and cultural events throughout the year.
Our Atlantic Friends Have Something Similar
The Dundas Place Flex Street project is being compared to the Argyle and Grafton Shared Streetscape project in Halifax, which was just finished in November 2017. After it was officially completed, the initiative won the People’s Choice Award for Best Urban Street Transformation and Best of Halifax 2017 silver award for Best Effort to Improve Halifax. And with good reason. It has pushed the vitality of downtown Halifax to new levels.
Our good friend Madison Powers is a London born artist who recently moved to Halifax. She’s had the chance to experience Argyle and Grafton for herself, and thinks that it makes Halifax a better place to live. She said, “It was my first adventure on my own after leaving London and instantaneously I felt like I belonged. That feeling is hard to come by when you move somewhere new. But by having this space, it breaks the ice for you.”
For some more information on the Argyle and Grafton Shared Streetscape project, check out the video below:
Dundas Place Flex Street Construction Timeline
Dundas Street is getting pretty old. Many components of its underground infrastructure, like the gas and power lines, are reaching the end of their useful life. The whole road has to be torn apart to upgrade the infrastructure for it to remain functional, so the city of London felt they might as well make it count.
Dundas Place will be constructed over 2 years time in two phases. 5 blocks of Dundas between Wellington Street and the Thames River will be torn apart and rebuilt. Seems like quite the big job right? Don’t worry though, the area won’t be completely shut down. In fact you will still be able to shop at Filthy Rebena Vintage during this time. Temporary sidewalks will be installed, and pedestrians will have access to businesses, even when the road is closed to traffic. Here what’s going to happen:
Starting April 2018, Ridout to Richmond Streets (including the Richmond Street intersection) will be reconstructed. This phase of the project is estimated to be completed in late 2018.
Starting early 2019, East of Richmond to Wellington will be reconstructed. This phase of the project will be complete by the end of 2019.
Here’s what it’s projected to look like when it’s completed:
Not bad huh?
Social Impact of Dundas Place
When it’s all said and done, what exactly will be the impact of Dundas Place Flex Street on London? Perhaps one of its most notable contributions will be its influence on the city’s culture. Culture is a powerful form of social impact. It exposes us to new ideas and understandings of how to interpret the world around us. This gives us a greater understanding of ourselves and our unique place in the world – in other words, it alters our identities.
The biggest cultural benefit that Dundas Place will bring to London is its strengthening of the community. It will bring people together in a shared experience, foster connections and communication, and cause a sense of belonging.
Thousands of commuters will pass by Dundas Place Flex Street every day. If even only a fraction of them express curiosity in what the space is, or decide to discover this new place, it has served as a human connection tool that opens hearts and minds to create bridges of understanding across different cultures.
It will also impact the broader community. This includes relationships to public transit, impact on municipal infrastructure, the environment, and the social patterns of our culture.
The City of London is committed to improving the city for its residents. Starting April 2018, Dundas Street will be torn up and be constructed into a flex street called Dundas Place. When it’s completed in 2019 Dundas Place Flex Street will serve as a catalyst to take the city’s culture to new heights. We are excited to experience the entertainment and cultural events that will take place in this space in the coming years!
37 square kilometres to be dug up
3 streets rebuilt
2 years of construction
$15.9 million plan