winter city

Embracing Winter in the City

As much of the Northern Hemisphere enters deep freeze January, the thoughts of many city-dwellers drift from their own snow and ice covered environments to cozy mountain towns or sun-kissed beaches. It’s a powerful draw. In fact, temperature and weather were some of the strongest indicators of population growth in the US during the 20th century. But recently, more North American cities have begun to embrace winter. Inspired by Nordic cities, and taking notes from places like Quebec City and Ottawa, a range of winter city initiatives have emerged. These include light festivals, like those in Pittsburgh and Montreal (plus a fantastic one in Helsinki) and great outdoor skating in Edmonton, Chicago and New York. Taking it a step further, Winnipeg supports its growing architectural scene through a design competition for the warming huts located along its outdoor skating route. European cities like Vienna continue to maintain their edge with Christmas markets; however even these are popping up in North America. To be a leading winter city means more than just hosting events however. Longterm strategies can address snow clearing priorities or map winter assets, while walkability is a vital four-season issue. And for city-making professionals, a wealth of resources and events have emerged in recent years. We’ve still got a few months of winter to go, and while few people would complain about a week in the sun, why not celebrate winter and build civic pride in your own city? Warmth comes from within, too.

Mitchell Reardon

Mitchell Reardon is the TH!NK by IBI blog curator, a land use planner and urban experimenter. His interdisciplinary work centres on people and how they live, work and move through the city. Mitchell is enjoying life in Vancouver, after 6 years of living and working in Stockholm, Sweden. Catch up with him on Twitter: @MitchellReardon

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