The ‘little parking lot that could’ wins international award for Vanier BIA

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The Vanier BIA has been recognized with a prestigious award for its work turning an underused parking lot into a one-of-a-kind community space. 

On Thursday, the International Downtown Association (IDA) announced that the Vanier BIA has received the Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence for the Vanier HUB, a “placemaking” project on Montreal Road at Marier Avenue. 

“We are beyond honoured by this award and we share it with our partners at the Vanier Community Services Centre,” said BIA chair Morgan Eadie. “We are so proud of our ‘little parking lot that could’ that is now a space where community and families gather regularly to celebrate and learn from each other.”

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The Vanier HUB project transformed the parking lot with vibrant crosswalks and a new mural. It focuses on inclusive and integrated programming that draws on arts, culture, sports and community engagement for francophone, Indigenous and newcomer communities, as well as families, 2SLGBTQ+ and youth. 

The BIA received a $230,000 My Mainstreet grant from the Canadian Urban Institute and FedDev Ontario in 2022 to support the project. The funds allowed the HUB to grow its resources and resulted in more than 10,000 event attendees, creating an impact on Vanier businesses. 

“We are especially flattered that we won this award based on creating a safe and inclusive space on our main street where our businesses and our community members get to experience all the vibrant cultures that make up the rich fabric of Vanier,” said BIA executive director Nathalie Carrier. 

Eadie and Carrier accepted the award from their peers in Chicago Thursday. 

The project was entered into the Public Space Management and Operations category, one of seven professional urban place management practice areas identified by IDA. Entries are evaluated by a jury of professional peers. 

“The Vanier BIA has demonstrated skillful application of urban place management principles with their Vanier HUB,” said David Downey, IDA president and CEO. “The HUB should serve as a framework to all member communities within IDA.”

Based out of Washington, D.C., the IDA represents more than 2,500 place management organizations employing 100,000 people throughout North America and around the world. The organization said it acts as a bridge between the public and private sectors in bringing innovative ideas and best practices to urban centres.

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