Social cohesion and neighbourhood resilience are central to creating better cities

By: Heidi Campbell, Paula Gallo, Michi Komori, Christine Martin, and Ferruccia Sardella


The active engagement of children and families is essential to building vibrant and resilient communities that address future challenges. By designing with and for children, who are often excluded in planning, we enhance the quality of neighbourhood gathering spaces and more meaningfully connect people within their communities. The Riverside neighbourhood of Toronto has a dynamic mix of residents surrounded by active and well-used community spaces and thriving local businesses. 

Our design concept reimagines this main street using our Child-Friendly Participatory Design approach to create a refuge of calm and safety, an area of accessible, high-quality green spaces that are welcoming to children and the wider community. This will cause people to pause and appreciate the enhanced spaces for children and families to connect, artists to create, and businesses to engage creatively with people.

Building on the Riverside Streetscape Master Plan, we propose transforming the street into an inspirational public space that prioritizes people and the natural world over vehicles. We envision a main street where children, their caregivers and the wider community will have access to comfortable spaces, and to an improved design that is more welcoming to pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages. This design will support a host of community activities, and nurture a strong connection between people and nature. It will serve as a catalyst for main streets and cities everywhere to begin their transformation, hand in hand with children. When cities invest in streets that are good for children, they create spaces that are good for all.

 Child-Friendly Riverside