FAQ – Comox Valley Car Free Day

You may have heard something about a Car Free Sunday happening in our community on Sunday, 25 September from 1-5pm. The following provides an introduction to the event including maps of the route (see the bottom of this post), what activities are permitted, how this may impact you if you are along the route and what you can do to participate if you choose to do so.

 

A bit about Car Free Sunday…

Car Free Days are celebrated around the world to provide opportunities to the public to experience streets in a creative, non-motorized way. It is a people-oriented celebration characterized by free family-oriented activities for all to enjoy. Some will call it a ‘closing’ down to cars, while we prefer to think of it as an ‘opening’ to other uses for a limited time.

Car Free Days are a growing phenomenon around the world. It is estimated that over 1500 communities around the world will celebrate World Car Free Day this year, which occurs annually in late September. The Comox Valley will be one of those communities in which Cumberland and Courtenay will participate.

 

Why have a Car Free Comox Valley Event?

The Comox Valley is appreciated by its residents and visitors alike for the high quality of life available here. The community has a strong appetite for recreation and festivities, including a vibrant arts scene and a number of environmental and social justice focused organizations. Locally run businesses strongly contribute to the Valley’s quality and character by providing services that are more unique and personal than the ‘big box’ shopping experience.

Car Free Sundays are designed to be fun and entertaining, promote neighbourly interaction, celebrate local businesses, inspire creativity in those who chose to get involved – while remaining free!

 

What to expect on the day…

A combination of vendors, workshops, demonstrations, art displays, musical performances, street theatre, street sports and community engagement forums are all encouraged on Car Free Sunday. The specifics of each area is being coordinated by the Community Coordinator assigned for that area.

If you are a business, you should expect increased pedestrian traffic. Cars will not be permitted to park in front of your store whether you choose to participate in the event or not. A ‘Market Days’ atmosphere is expected, depending on the number of businesses that choose to participate. Please note that traffic is permitted through key intersections (see Map).

Commercial activities will be concentrated in and around the downtown areas of each community. Street sports, fitness classes and all other activities will be distributed elsewhere along the route.

If you are a resident, you will also see more pedestrian traffic outside your home along with more strollers, roller bladers, cyclists, skate boarders and other non-motorized transportation modes. You will see fewer vehicles as none will be permitted to park along the route, including your own vehicle. You will be asked to park your car down in allotted areas before the event and can return your vehicle shortly after 5pm. Please be aware this applies only to vehicles that would normally be parked on the street. A notification of this request will be delivered closer to the event. Please note that traffic is permitted through key intersections (see Map).

If you were thinking of holding a yard sale, or having a neighbourhood BBQ, you may find these activities benefit from the celebratory “feel” of Car Free Sunday. Other activities you may consider are to encourage your kids to host a lemonade stand, bring your patio furniture out in the front to watch the sights go by,  practice your musical instrument outdoors, or almost anything else you can think of!

 

What if I feel like the event will negatively affect my mobility?

If you cycle or walk most places, you will likely find the identified routes to be more pleasant and possibly easier to use than on other days. If you use a car to get around, you may find the event a bit disruptive. Mobility Squads have been arranged to help you move items short distances from your car to your home if you have heavy or bulky items to move, or if you would just like a hand. It is not expected that anyone will have to walk more than a block or two from their homes to their car. If you have to take a Taxi on that day, we suggest you use a nearby intersection as the pick-up/drop off location. We will be notifying local taxi services of this.

The event has been organized for a time of the week that is expected to experience the least amount of traffic and will occur for four hours. If you are feeling overly inconvenienced, we ask that you be patient with the event as you would be expected to with road maintenance activities.

 

This is an opportunity for community engagement…

A theme of the event will be a SpeakOut community engagement forum. A SpeakOut is a way of learning what is important to a community. It is a tool that is occasionally used by planners and community groups to gauge the ‘temperature’ of a community’s likes and dislikes, necessities and amenities that contribute to quality of life. This is not a local government initiated engagement event, so we cannot guarantee how the local governments will receive the information. We plan to assemble and present the material to local government officials and staff. If you have something you’ve been wanting to say about your community, but didn’t know where to say it, this may be a venue for you.

 

How can I get involved as a business?

  • Consider how to possibly use the increased pedestrian traffic and no vehicle traffic to your advantage. As a business or individual, have you been wanting to use the street in some creative way? Bear in mind activities must be lawful. No alcohol is permitted in public areas including streets.
  • Provide an outdoor kiosk of your merchandise or services on the route.
  • Work with your business association to ensure the event is a success.
  • Promote the event by displaying a poster in your window. Posters will be available for download shortly on the website, or contact a member of the organization team below. Posters will also be widely distributed closer to the event.
  • Talk about the event with your networks. Feel free to post any of this material to any websites or social networking sites.
  • “Like” the event and/or join the conversation on Facebook: “First Ever Comox Valley Car Free Sunday
  • Support your Council’s decision to allow the event by writing to them.

How can I get involved as a resident?

  • Consider how to possibly use the increased pedestrian traffic and no vehicle traffic to your advantage. Have you been wanting to use the street in some creative way? Bear in mind the activities must be lawful. No alcohol is permitted in public area including streets.
  • Talk about the event with your networks. Feel free to post any of this material to any websites or social networking sites.
  • “Like” the event and/or join the conversation on Facebook: “First Ever Comox Valley Car Free Sunday
  • Volunteer for the event. For more information or to sign up visit www.imaginecomoxvalley.ca or contact the Volunteer Coordinator (see below).
  • Support your Council’s decision to allow the event by writing to them.

What if I don’t support the event?

Events like these are permitted to occur so long as they meet key conditions, like any other public event. The Comox Valley annually allows a number of activities to occur that impact where cars are allowed to go for varying amounts of time. Courtenay and Cumberland governments have given their assent so long as the event meets key conditions. You do not have to participate in the event.

 

A little about the organizers…

A significant amount of work has been invested by dedicated and professional individuals to see this idea become a reality. Comox Valley Car Free Sunday has been spearheaded by the non-profit Imagine Comox Valley which promotes creativity and sustainability in community decision making.

We acknowledge that not everyone will be enthusiastic about Car Free Sunday. But it has also been a pleasant experience in organizing this event to realize how much support there is. We know that ultimately Comox Valley Car Free Sunday will be what we collectively make of it.

Community organizations, businesses, schools and individuals from all corners of the community are stepping forward to ask how to get involved. We hope you will join us in contributing to what we believe has the potential to be a truly community-based, fun and creative, talked about annual event.

 

Where can I learn more about Car Free Days in general?

Read the summary report from Gil Peñalosa’s visit to the Comox Valley

 

Who to contact if you have a comment/questions…

We appreciate your consideration and hope to see you out on the First Ever Comox Valley Car Free Sunday!

Sincerely,
The Comox Valley Car Free Sunday Organization Team
Andrew Gower (Administrative Coordinator) – Nancy Hofer (Courtenay Coordinator) – Pieter Vorster (Media Coordinator) – Tom Dishlevoy (Consultant) – Wendell Hoyseth (Sponsorship Coordinator)

View route maps for Courtenay and Cumberland.