Could we uncover Jackson Creek downtown?

The asphalt, concrete, and structures that hide Jackson Creek from view downtown should be removed, say a number of local planners, naturalists, and activists.

Jackson Park flows through Peterborough’s downtown, but it is buried beneath the city for most of its route through the core. Removing the obstructions (a process known as daylighting) is possible, and could help to densify the downtown while making it more pleasant and ecologically sustainable, say advocates of the idea.

“It’s a real shame that in its current state it’s almost entirely covered as it meanders its way through downtown,” says Dylan Radcliffe, a naturalist and water analyst. Radcliffe says that daylighting the creek could provide “a little extra accessible green space” in the downtown. He adds that from an environmental standpoint, daylighting the creek and remediating its shores could help alleviate some of the pressures on wildlife that previous development around the creek has caused.

The idea of daylighting Jackson Creek goes back and least 30 years. The Ontario Association of Architects released a study in the 1980s that recommended uncovering the creek, according to Michael Gallant, an architect who has studied the idea of daylighting the creek himself. Gallant says that with smart planning and enough political will, the creek could be daylit over the next few decades.

On October 18, Mayor Daryl Bennett said he is interested in pursuing the idea of uncovering the creek.

How to avoid gentrification?

Jackson Creek has seen little attention from the City in recent years, and the spaces around the creek are less gentrified than other parts of downtown, says Natalie Napier, a consultant for the Downtown Business Improvement Area.

“As a result there’s a lot of people who we might consider more marginalized who feel some ownership over that space,” Napier says, adding that we need to consider “what the development of that space would mean for those people.”

“How can we design this space in an inclusive way?” Napier asks, stressing that that any development of Jackson Creek would have to be done in a way that doesn’t displace the people who already make use of the space.

Listen to the audio story above to learn more about the potential of daylighting Jackson Creek.

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