Sunday, 22 October 2017

Winter Cities Make Season Liveable

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 27 January 2004 00:00

While Canada battles record-low temperatures, icy roads and burst water pipes, many Canadians are determined to celebrate winter and make the best of the cold. At the forefront of these celebrations is the Winter Cities Association (WCA), a non-profit organization that shares ideas, research and solutions to our northern challenges.

This Association believes that people living in the 35% of the world that experiences a true winter have a lot in common and there's a lot they can learn from each other: infrastructure, personal well-being, applications of technology, tourism development, etc. Founded as the Liveable Winter Cities Association by the late Jack Royle, a former Toronto journalist in 1983, the Association has become as "borderless" as the season it celebrates.

WCA biennial Winter Forums and exhibitions bring international exposure to winter cities around the world and provide an opportunity to share "best practices." Prince George , BC (1999); Quebec City , Quebec (2001) and Anchorage, Alaska plays host.

"I would want to live in a community that belongs to the WCA (as, in fact, I do!) because the municipality, developers and others would strive to make my community comfortable, safe, and aesthetically pleasing during the winter months," said Anne Martin, Winter Cities Association President and a winter-loving resident of Prince George.

"Attention would be paid to good winter city design, streets would be ploughed efficiently and driveway entrances kept open by the City, colour and decorative lighting would add to the beauty of the downtown, landscaping would include evergreens for winter colour and wind protection, as well as other trees and shrubs for their winter interest (bark, berries). Protection from the elements would include above-, below- and at-grade protection e.g. skyways, underground malls and canopies. Sidewalk heating might be incorporated, particularly if this can be done by using recycled heat. Public transportation systems would be in place to help people move around. Parks, open spaces, waterfronts and ski-trail networks would encourage winter recreation and leisure and winter carnivals to help get people out and socializing."

According to the WCA, your community may qualify as a winter city based on any one of a few definitions that incorporate a range of values from seasonal temperatures, periods of sunshine, and forms of precipitation, to seasonal economic activities from shopping for winter clothing to the extent of the skiing season. For example, some definitions for winter communities are created by the definition of winter itself:

  • Astronomical winter is the period from the winter solstice (December 22) to the vernal equinox (March 21).

  • Climatology uses three-month periods to describe seasons; therefore, winter is defined by the months of December, January, and February.

  • Winter may also be defined by the average weather conditions that are suitable for outdoor recreational purposes such as skiing. Such conditions begin when the median date of snow cover of 2.5 cm begins, and ends on the median date of the last snow cover of 2.5 cm.

    When considering a move to a new community or buying into a new development, you'd be wise to inquire what elements of climate-responsive design, planning and policy will maximize social interaction through extended cold periods and promote safe movement in all weather. WCA says the most important factor is developing a community-wide attitude of celebrating winter and discovering its good sides.

    "We have to encourage people to enjoy winter not only on the weekends (when leisure opportunities are available) but also on a daily basis," wrote founding president Norman Pressman, author of Municipalities, corporations and individuals are welcome to join WCA and share information on community design, the environment, economic and social development, building construction, energy and communications, recreation, and northern cultural activities.

    Don't be left out in the cold!

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