Saint Andrews – The Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) announced today that the historic business district section of Water Street in Saint Andrews has been named the 2016 Great Street in its Great Places in Canada contest.
It was the town’s Heritage Board which entered Water Street in the contest and the winner was announced after a rigorous review process by a jury of certified planning professionals.
“We’ve always known that our Historic Water Street is great and now all of Canada does too,” said Lee Sochasky who chairs the Heritage Board.
“Historic Water Street has more uses and energy packed into just five blocks than many full city streets. The judges recognized this and the 1800s heritage of our vibrant downtown.
“It was a wonderful team effort by the downtown businesses, the Farmer’s Market, the heritage board and so many town residents and friends. We all came together to support our street.”
The jury’s statement notes, “Historic Water Street is a part of the community of Saint Andrews’ heart and identity. The pedestrian-oriented street integrates contextual urban design with open spaces and scenic views of the nearby sea.
“While the street’s design and architecture references the community’s over 200 years of history, the place itself has evolved to remain a daily part of residents’ lives for both commercial and recreational purposes.
“The street is also an attraction for the community’s over 80,000 visitors each year. It houses well-frequented restaurants, shops, galleries, and other excursion opportunities. The street is also the backdrop for a weekly Farmers Market and hosts community events in all four seasons.”
In August, CIP invited Canadians to nominate a place in their community for the Great Places in Canada contest. A panel of jurors reviewed 37 submissions from across Canada against a criteria of planning best practices that considered social, economic, and accessibility factors and elements such as design, culture, history and landscape.
“A great place is one where citizens can enjoy a healthy and inspiring environment. All of the 2016 Great Places in Canada winners are demonstrative of what planners try to create: a space that is functional, safe and enjoyable for the community,” said CIP president Eleanor Mohammed.
Water Street has been the heart and soul of commercial and community life in Saint Andrews for more than 250 years – the focal point for its 1,800 residents and 80,000 annual visitors.
The five-block section of Water Street from Elizabeth to Frederick Streets is first and foremost the heart and soul of the community’s daily life. It is also a focal point for visitors.
The downtown streetscape remains largely unchanged from centuries past, illustrating early Maritime Canadian architecture and urban design with its mix of historic built and open spaces and water access. As the town’s dedicated Historic Business District, the buildings and streetscape are protected by municipal bylaw.
The design and architecture of Saint Andrews dates back to 1783 when United Empire Loyalists, displaced from New England after the American Revolutionary War, arrived near what is now Market Wharf to settle a new town laid out by British engineers.
The first buildings were erected on Water Street – some even transported from New England. During the 1800s, when Saint Andrews was one of the region’s largest seaports, the majority of Water Street’s buildings and public spaces took their present form.
Three-quarters of the buildings are more than 100 years old and many others are approaching that age. The present public spaces and wharf access are into their third century of use.