When working on a shoestring, it’s time to make stone soup, says UBC landscape architecture graduate Pietra Basilij.
That’s the advice the sustainable development consultant dished out to residents and District of Squamish officials at the municipality’s second Downtown Transformation Initiative workshop on Monday (Oct. 28). The fable goes that a hungry traveller entered a town and asked for food. When passersby ignored him, he started to make stone soup.
Soon a crowd gathered and the traveller advised them that although the soup was the best meal they’ll ever taste, it’s even better with vegetables. By the time the soup was served, the villagers had added a slew of ingredients, making it delicious.
“The defining factor is never resources, it is resourcefulness,” Basilij said.
Last year, the architectural class’s final projects focused on solving various local challenges. Basilij targeted landscapes in transition throughout downtown’s core — spaces either undergoing environmental cleanups, awaiting development or untouched as they’re a part of a long-term plan.
“It gives the appearance that the downtown is less cared for than it really is,” she said.
Using resources on and around the properties — concrete barriers, driftwood, old logging equipment — Basilij transformed the spaces into temporary public meeting areas. Basilij redesigned the gravel lot at the northeast corner of Cleveland Avenue and Winnipeg Street into a town square — complete with an outdoor cinema that used an adjacent building’s blank wall.
The projects would require community involvement and give residents a chance to showcase their talents, she noted. To get things going, the municipality could host design competitions in which the winner is awarded $2,000, a backhoe and two workers for one weekend, Basilij suggested.
“Allow people to become makers and creators of public space,” she said.
After Basilij’s presentation, participants split into three think-tank stations focusing on breathing life into Squamish’s heart. The ideas will be rolled into the municipality’s downtown transformation actions, municipal planner Sarah McJannet said.