Sustainable urban community development from the grass roots: Challenges and opportunities in a pedestrian street initiative

Journal Title
Local Environment
Journal Number
Journal Volume

A local sustainable development initiative to establish a temporary pedestrian zone within a Canadian urban community served as a research study into the efficacy of social capital in the development of a network for community action. This community-based initiative used social capital to overcome campaign obstacles and the campaign itself generated new social capital within the neighbourhood through the creation of adaptive networks of participants. The campaign succeeded in creating a part-time pedestrian-only space that serves as an educational example of change for sustainable community development that is replicable in other communities, and provides an example of alternative occupation of community space. Contrary to other literature, little evidence of “core burnout” was found although the network does continue to expend a large amount of effort and time on fundraising. While social capital is a powerful tool for local grassroots action, the availability of a critical source of economic capital may prove vital to the long-term success and sustainability of the network.