Let's turn Gaukel Street into a people-focused space, connecting Victoria Park with City Hall

people enjoying themselves on gaukel street during the pop-up park

Who we are: The Gaukel St. Community Group is a group of downtown community members, neighbourhood associations, and businesses, and we want to bring your ideas and feedback to City of Kitchener staff, who are working on a long-term plan for redesigning Gaukel St.

A socially-distanced summer patio space

In summer 2020, the City of Kitchener installed planters and colourful picnic tables on Gaukel Street so people could gather with friends and family in a socially-distanced way, or bring a take-out meal outside for lunch. They also installed string lights above to make a nice evening ambiance.

Musicians have been known to get together and jam outside on Gaukel Street, and everyone from seniors to young kids and families were able to enjoy the space while maintaining social distancing.

Artist Luke Swinson painted some wonderful illustrations of animals, inspired by our relationship to the land and animals around us.

An illustration of a wolf, painted onto the roadway.

Kitchener's 2020 Budget

The proposed 2020 Kitchener budget includes funding for a Gaukel Street Closure in 2020 and 2021. This is the result of incredible hard work and advocacy by community members, business leaders, staff and our city Council. This budget proposal follows up the City of Kitchener's decision to include Gaukel Street as a pedestrian route in its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.

Urbanist Brent Toderian says, "The truth about a city's aspirations isn't found in its vision. It's found in its budget." We're so happy to see the commitment to Gaukel Street being realized in the 2020 budget!

Update: the budget was passed! Thanks to everyone who took the 2020 Budget Survey to express your support for the Gaukel Street closure!

Gaukel Street Pop-Up Park

Gaukel St. Pop-Up Park

From September 26-29, 2019, we created a public gathering place on the roadway of Gaukel Street. For 4 days, residents and visitors relaxed at the tables and chairs, played games with friends and family, took in the music and theatre performances, and enjoyed free coffee and snacks. (View the event page)

Media coverage:

The park was open to all, 24 hours a day, throughout the entire 4 days, to match our vision of a permanent park. We observed families with children, seniors, youth, and young adults, all using the space at different times of day for different purposes. Whether creating chalk art, playing basketball, watching a music performance, or sitting with a friend for lunch, we were extremely glad to see the incredible diversity of people that were attracted to the Gaukel St. Pop-Up Park.

In particular, the music and theatre acts brought crowds of people to appreciate Gaukel Street and helped them imagine how it could become a permanent pedestrian space. We received over 250 surveys from attendees, who gave us their thoughts on what they'd like to see in a pedestrianized Gaukel Street.

One of the greatest indicators of success was seeing people approach the pop-up park with their own ideas and activities. For example, a bike polo group arrived, playing an impromptu game of bike polo and teaching curious onlookers how to play the game. One afternoon, a local arcade, AOK Arcade Bar, brought some portable video games onto the street for anyone to enjoy.

City of Kitchener staff went above and beyond to support the Gaukel Street pop-up park! Staff from Kitchener Events, Neighbourhood Development, Planning, Operations, and Transportation all helped to make this a success. They took care of so many details to help the event run smoothly and provided additional funding so that we could afford amenities like an accessible porta-potty and overnight security for the event.

Gaukel Survey

During the pop-up park, we asked people to fill out a survey with their thoughts on turning Gaukel Street into a car-free space. Here's what we heard!

Total responses: 258

What brings you to downtown Kitchener?

I live here 165 64%
I attend events here 162 63%
I meet up with friends here 149 58%
I shop here 139 54%
I have errands / appointments here 118 46%
I work here 113 44%
Other 18 7%

When do you usually spend time downtown?

Daytime 189 73%
Evening 167 65%
Weekdays 145 56%
Weekends 185 72%

How do you get around in downtown Kitchener?

Walking/pedestrian/mobility device 235 91%
Cycling 122 47%
Transit 119 46%
Driving 109 42%

Gaukel Street is a road that connects Victoria Park with Kitchener City Hall. If this street were permanently closed to cars, what would you like to see here?

Planters, trees, greenery 210 81%
Seating, tables, chairs, benches 178 69%
Events, vendors, markets 158 61%
Murals 118 46%
Patios 117 45%
Dedicated bike lane 107 41%
Performance space, stage 90 35%
Community garden 81 31%
Statues, sculptures 62 24%
Permanent shops, kiosks 51 20%
Basketball court 39 15%
Dog park 36 14%
Skating rink 24 9%
Skateboard park 24 9%

What do you think of transforming Gaukel Street into a permanent pedestrian-and-cycling area, connecting Victoria Park with Kitchener City Hall?

Positive response 210 97%
Neutral/ambivalent response 3 1%
Negative response 3 1%

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