2014 Go Smart Day, an initiative of Imagine Comox Valley, saw almost 500 people take to the streets in downtown Courtenay in a celebration of youthful fun, sun, sports, shopping, food, music and art. Organised by a handful of pro-active animateurs, supported by a few dozen volunteers and enjoyed by hundreds of community members of all ages, the event was everything the organisers had hoped for.
Image caption: 2014 Go Smart Day - early morning chalk art, started by local artist Tracy Kobus and filled in by people of all ages with some gentle guidance from local teacher Nicholas Williams.
After ongoing deliberation and varied input the group organising 2014 Go Smart Day under the banner of Imagine Comox Valley decided to change the name of the event from Car-Free Sunday to Go Smart Day. “It’s never been about being anti-car. We felt that the name Car-Free Sunday was too rigid. This event is about promoting the many possible uses of a public resource. Go Smart Day seemed a much better fit and we are grateful for the suggestion from one of our supporters.” said Andrew Gower, part of the organising team. “Considering the large number of children and youth that come out to the event, it seemed essential to have things flowing freely; we the organisers basically make the roads of the downtown core a safe space allowing people to do what they want as they want.”
Support from the downtown businesses played a key part in the success of the event and the organisers are grateful to be-Clothing, The Broken Spoke, Cardero’s, Courtenay Antiques, Everything Wet Store, Fiction, Home and Garden Gate, Iconic, Kradles, Courtenay Library, The Laughing Oyster, Courtenay Museum, Red Living, Union Street Grill and Grotto and Zocalo Cafe for their participation on the day of the event. Along with some shopping, people were invited to participate in a cretiri-fun event, a community garden potluck, create street art, enjoy a sidewalk music show (thanks to our friends from Elevate the Arts) and ride all kinds of things up and down and around 5th street and a small downtown core loop.
Getting to the event was pretty easy, even for those who had to travel some distance to get there, thanks to participation from the folks at BC Transit, who provided both a special transit schedule for the day of the event and an impressive informative booth. Special mention also goes out to Christine Nave of CNIC Traffic Services, who generously donated the time and effort required to ensure safe traffic control services for the event.
“Seeing your friends and neighbours out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Strolling through our beautiful downtown core without worrying about kids riding their bikes. Supporting local businesses, knowing that it is money well spent because they support you. This is community-building at its finest - and most fun.” said David Frisch, volunteer coordinator for 2014 Go Smart Day.
As the event came to an end, and traffic on 5th Street resumed to normal, the volunteers enjoying some post-event goodies cooked up by Union Street Grill and Grotto, unanimously agreed that 2015 Go Smart Day couldn’t come soon enough.
For more media from the event search for #2014GoSmartDay on Twitter or Facebook.