York Urbanist


March 19th, 2015
Healthy Communities, Landscape Architecture, Recreation

Green Ribbon TreeTrees For Kleinburg

Islington Crossing watercolourThe community advocacy group, Trees For Kleinburg, is building awareness of the importance of the urban forest.  The village of Kleinburg is a desirable place to live and we want to maintain that as development of multiple residential sites ensues.

Accordingly, the Green Ribbon Campaign will be held April 20 to 25, during Earth Week.  You can purchase one green ribbon for $5 or three for $10 to put around your trees, visible to the public that trees are important to you.

colour drawing

Islington Avenue Pilot Project

Funds raised from the campaign go directly to streetscape improvements, that otherwise would not include greening.  The plan image is the first pilot project on Islington Avenue. It is a unique addition to the street, a green introduction to Kleinburg with a magnificent White Pine, emblematic of McMichael Gallery, Group of Seven works.


History of Earth Day

Islington Ave ceremonyEarth Day was started in the United States in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson to create awareness for the Earth’s environment and to encourage conservation efforts. In 1990, Earth Day was taken international, and today, more than 500 million people in 175 countries observe Earth Day!

This year we are encouraging the residents of Kleinburg/Nashville to participate in Earth Day!

We are fortunate to reside in a community that is heavily populated with an abundance of forests, wildlife, ravines, nature trails, waterways and beautiful landscaping.

During the month of April, several of our merchants in town (ie. Hawthorne House, Bon Bons & Brittle) will be selling green ribbons for $5.00. We ask that a ribbon be tied around a tree in front of each home or business to celebrate this special day!

All proceeds from the sale of these ribbons will go to a non-profit group called “Trees for Kleinburg” that is working diligently with the City of Vaughan towards improving and enhancing our streetscape along Islington Avenue with beautiful trees, perennial beds, etc.

Let’s paint the town GREEN on Earth Day! Tie a ribbon on to support this wonderful cause!

For further information, please e-mail Mark Inglis at yorkurbanist@gmail.com .

Curling Customers as Volunteers

March 11th, 2015
Curling, Recreation

In Curling, define the customer and you will uniquely define the volunteer. Let us start with dispelling myths:

Myth #1 – Curling as a sport in Canada is declining

  • Recent statistics from TSN http://www.tsn.ca/tim-hortons-brier-attracts-big-audiences-to-tsn-1.226557 describe that over 2 million persons watched Pat Simmons throw his draw to the button in the 2015 Brier final – an increase of 29% over the final in 2014.
  • Bids to host the Olympic Trials are competitive, even at $1m for the rights.
  • Curling recruitment swells after each Olympics across Canada.

Myth #2 – Voluntarism is waning

  • My personal experience at the Ontario Scotties and the Brier – there were TOO MANY VOLUNTEERS, many of whom were in the way, despite the fact that they always wanted to assist.
  • When I volunteered for a Brier, I had to pay to volunteer…. and gladly, to enjoy an event that comes but once a year.
  • Member volunteers want to help, but clubs fail to provide the right opportunities to suit the recruit. See Volunteer Segmentation below.
  • Parents want to become involved with their children – volunteering gives them the opportunity.

Myth #3 – Members will leave if we raise the cost of membership fees

  • Compare the cost of curling to any sport. Curling is undervalued. Your kid can play recreation hockey for $1,200 per year or curl for $120. If cost is a deterrent, then this is a no-brainer. Get into or stay in the market before it takes off and fee charges suit the demand.
  • Curling is a business. A not-for-profit business needs to cover costs. Costs include capital improvements. Capital improvements should be funded over time. A capital fee should therefore be applied. (See my article December issue of The Curling News). Curling members will pay the fee when the logical business explanation is given.

Myth #4 – Curling sport is steeped in traditions; changes with technology are not warranted.

  • How many times have you had to explain the scoreboard to a new curling recruit? The hell with tradition, give them an intuitive electronic numbering system that takes the guesswork out of scoring the game.
  • Electronics costs have plummeted with miniaturization. Get your club some good cameras and screens and supply spectators, coaches and players a common tool to analyse the game!
  • Relate to youth who have been nurtured on electronics. Use your imagination – slide speed, rock curl, rock speed, sweeping effectiveness… all can be electronically evaluated and analysed, and at little cost.

Coquitlam - great viewing CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION

Customers are those for whom we are creating value. But, who are our most important customers? First, Curling is a Niche Market, segmented by:

  • Age
  • Skill
  • Activity level
  • Wealth

To be successful, we must determine the type of relationship each of our customer segments expect us to establish and maintain with them. For Age, most clubs have a gap between 20 and 40. It is the time when youth go away to school, try to establish a career and raise young families. They are distracted from their former junior social circle of curling. It does not have to be! The Royals, in Toronto has re-invented itself as a cool place for 20- and 30-somethings to hang. Chinguacousy CC in Brampton, Ontario launched under-35 competitions or clinics in 2014 with resounding success. The age gap is created only by clubs that are resistant to change.

Regarding skill, Canada has seen reduced competitive curling entries. Does that mean that skills are declining? Resounding No! To enjoy a sport recreationally, the skill needs to be nurtured. Successful clubs engrain training into the curriculum.

Activity level is the amount of recreation or fitness in which your customer wants to partake. Recreation curlers can be junkies, but the fact remains that some want to curl but spend less time doing it! Define which describes your member market and you will succeed. Why does a league need to be once a week? Why not once a month? Or only in October and November for SnoBirds?

Curlers, demographically, are above average income earners. Referring back to Myth #3, if that is correct, then fees would be less of a burden on the curling demographic. What the curling customer wants is value. Sport and recreation are counter balances to stressful work environments. Create a social, stress-free environment, and they will come knocking.


Curling Customers desire to be part of the organization, to make it their own and to have an influence on what best suits their own purposes. Volunteering enhances social experience at a curling facility. Just as there is segmentation for customers, so too are there segments for volunteers:


  • This segment includes managers and professionals. When they retire, they are looking for time fillers.
  • As physical capabilities decline, seniors may look for other less vigorous activities. Volunteering for administrative work and coaching fits the bill.


  • High School students are looking to fill volunteer hours obligatory in many provinces.
  • Voluntarism makes an impression on the résumé.
  • University and colleges look at volunteer hours as part of the evaluation for candidate students.


  • Participation promotes bonding with children.
  • Involvement ensures that children are in a safe environment.
  • Directing activities also directs their children to interact with suitable compatriots.

Business persons

  • Positions on boards impress others.
  • Volunteering increases contacts with future clients.
  • Applying professional skills not only enhances the image, but hones the skills.

In each of the segments above, there is one common ingredient: a need to be given responsibility. Dole out responsibility to your customers and they will become your volunteers. Give a finite task to any of your customers, and they will gladly lend a hand, knowing that it contributes to the experience and is not a life sentence. As an aside: I attended the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. During two consecutive between-ends distractions, I became conflicted with the response to the presentations. The first was the snare rapping and cymbals slashing of the surprisingly young 9 year-old Jaxon Smith, likely paid entertainment. There was an immediate and long standing ovation for the young Phenom. In the next break, Curling Canada presented their 2015 Volunteer Award to Harvey Lyons, who relaunched his Lorette, Manitoba curling club, raising it from the solvency fires like the proverbial Phoenix. This feat took many years of 40-hour unpaid work weeks to accomplish. The response from the audience… polite applause from those who had not left for beer. Volunteers do not require payment or accolades, but Harvey Lyons deserved a better response.

See also:



reprinted from www.curling.ca

Harvey Lyons – reprinted from www.curling.ca

Green Hero

March 10th, 2015
Islington Ave ceremony

Islington Avenue Pilot Project Opening Ceremony

Main Street bike lanes

Bike Lanes on Main Street

Bike on Don Valley Trail bridge

Mark Inglis cycling Don Valley Trail

bridge with rail

St. Thomas Elevated Park image

25 Main front yard

25 Main Street Front Yard Landscape

GTA West Corridor – Replacing lost Cycle Routes

March 10th, 2015

vaughan ped and cycling MP snip

In addition to the previous post, The GTA West Corridor Study principles miss a critical impact to recreation. The Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan for the City of Vaughan proposes four significant cycling routes through the corridor study area.

Teston Road has been identified as a paved shoulder for cycling.  Kirby Road is a cycle route. King Vaughan Line includes a signed cycling route and across the middle, along the Gas Pipeline corridor, a multi-use trail is proposed. 

So what happens to those accesses….. at the very least, the ministry should understand the significance of recreation and potential for alternative active transportation to relieve the congestion that future Highway 413 exacerbates.  Yes, the highway exacerbates congestion by encouraging suburban development instead of allowing for intensification.

The other north south access route along the Humber River between Bolton and Kleinburg has been identified by the GTA West Corridor study, but no concrete design principles have been identified. This study should at very least put money into the proposed cycle routes or create a parallel multi-use trail within the highway and transitway corridor.  Currently, there is no east to west access across Vaughan. Miss this opportunity and Vaughan becomes impassable by any mode but a motorized vehicle.

GTA West Corridor – A Blast Through the Greenbelt

February 25th, 2015
Healthy Communities, Recreation, Trails, Transportation issues

GTA West Corridor map

I am a co-author of trails master plans for York Region and the City of Vaughan. I have had correspondence with others regarding the GTA West Corridor particularly about how its construction will impact cycling and pedestrian activities in the future, during and post construction. The HVHTA will host a trail walk March 7, 2015 in lands that will be impacted by the highway construction. It seems a fait accompli that the highway will be built but there must be a way to ensure that modes other than motorized vehicles are accommodated in what today is designated Greenbelt. Accordingly, I have composed the following short summary, which is consistent with expressions of concern in other jurisdictions affected by GTA West Corridor.

MTO must consider pedestrian and cycling facilities as inherent parts of the GTA West Corridor system:

  • Connected and integrated cycle routes and paths: Newly constructed cycle trails/paths should parallel the proposed motorized vehicular routes. Multi-use Pedestrian / Cycle paths should be a minimum 3m wide allowing access between all overpasses crossing the future highway.
  • Address Municipal Cycling/Pedestrian Master Plans: Peel and York Regions, Brampton, Vaughan and King have Master Plans recommending connected and circumferential trails. These must be integrated into the plans for the Corridor and indeed, become an enhancement to encourage active transportation.
  • Permeability: In particular, frequent pedestrian / cycle overpasses must be part of a permeable system of crossings. Unlike recent MTO constructs, there should be generous and safe sidewalks for pedestrians. Crossings for cyclists should be on a separated lane for safety on all crossings of the future highway, as elevated overpasses can have greater wind velocities.
  • Trail Connections: Ensure the GTA West does not preclude other trail connections, particularly HVHTA’s Bolton to Kleinburg route through the Nashville Tract Conservation lands and Bolton Resource Management Tract Conservation lands.
  • Active transportation facilities: should be integrated in the overall design plan to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists: walking and cycling facilities at interchanges and ramp crossings; accessible crossings located to support direct pedestrian routes; adequate lighting and sight distances.
  • Landscaped Corridor: The poorly vegetated 407 must not be replicated. The GTA West Corridor removes considerable forest cover and hedgerows. These wildlife corridors will be lost. The wind protection and cooling effects they afford need to be compensated. In municipalities, developers are required to replace or compensate for removal of all trees. MTO, by construction of the highway, is a developer and should not be exempt.

I implore any readers of this blog to send a letter to the Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, whose contact information is located: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_detail.do?locale=en&ID=7205


February 19th, 2015

Curling can attract spectators. One needs to identify the attraction parameters. Here are most recent spectator statistics as provided by Canadian Curling Association:


2010 Halifax 390,096 107,242
2011 London 366,151 113,626
2012 Saskatoon 222,189 177,226
2013 Edmonton 812,201 190,113
2014 Kamloops 85,678 65,005



2010 Sault Ste. Marie 75,141 49,436
2011 Charlottetown 35,000 48,473
2012 Red Deer 90,564 94,997
2013 Kingston 123,363 65,825
2014 Montreal 1,649,519 39,063

There is seemingly little or no correlation between host city population and attendance. There is little trend to the increasing or decreasing popularity of the events over time. So what can we surmise? First consider other sports:

  • Seven Game final NHL Hockey series are usually but not always sold out;
  • Baseball World Series – SRO;
  • Badminton championships have non-existent fans in North America, but watch out in Indonesia;
  • Soccer anytime fills stands in England and Spain;
  • Cricket creates riots in India and Pakistan;
  • Could Super Bowl attract the audience without half time show and commercials?

Why do they succeed in attracting spectators; and conversely, why not? Let’s look at it through the marketing lens:

Regionality – In the case of successful sport events, the sport is engrained in the national culture. Cricket and badminton have regional clusters of culture. Baseball similarly has a regional (American) appeal. Frequently, front row seats are available at Blue Jays games, but in the USA, the national pastime passion fills the seats in select cities. Hockey is Canada’s game, which is why you can walk-in to playoff series in Tampa and Carolina while lowly Toronto teams’ seats still command a hefty sum even on losing streaks. Soccer, it seems, has the greatest universality. Even Toronto can attract spectators to BMO field. Curling has yet to achieve the national cultural identity of hockey, but it can come. Curling has its strongest culture regionally in the Prairie provinces. Analysing the population to attendance ratios in the stats above, though, you might interpret that there is also a niche in PEI.

Entertainment Value– The event is not all on the ice. Most Super Bowl spectators are avid American football fans, but there is testament to attendees being there to be seen or to fulfil a bucket list. Few attendees (unlike curling spectators) are football players. TV viewers are divided between football and half-time show aficionados. The Brier/Scotties has to become a non-curlers’ “go-to” event, and/or contain other entertainment value to draw non-curlers to its event. Suggestions: apply music more liberally, at gaps between games or 5th end break and at the Patch; Increase the media, outside traditional curling channels; and create month-long build-up of mini-events to the BIG events. IMG_00000571

The Patch was the debacle of the Kamloops 2014 Brier. While the stands were less than half full, the locals secured seats at the Patch precluding curling fans from celebrating with their peers and heroes. The talk on the street was of anger that attendees in the seats were not guaranteed seats at the Patch. Although I gained access to the Patch, it was not the same as a year previous in Edmonton. In Edmonton, one could rub shoulders with the players and the casual acquaintances you met in the stands. In Kamloops, lineups outside had more people to whom I could relate than the crowd inside the Patch. If Kamloops organizers suffered at the gate, the CCA suffered more from Patch fall-out. The Patch at Briers, Olympic Trials or Scotties is curling’s most sacred emblem of camaraderie and fun. See Entertainment Value above.

Embracing Oddball Antics – Consider the news items that are generated from curling events. The SOCIABLES are a group of 10 Edmontonians who clothe and charm their way to notoriety at Briers. At the last four Briers, they became a presence and a valued asset to organizing committee’s, so much so that Pat Ryan invited them to Kamloops 2014 Brier just to add that entertainment value. Antics of individuals play a key role in curling event history. Flag runners such as John Francis in Harbin, China World Universiade and Jack Cox from Lindsay, Ontario at Briers become featured in local and national news (“Jack Cox, the elderly gentleman whose mad sprints with a massive flag have inspired Ontario curlers and thrilled crowds at 18 Briers, has been stopped by organizers, who are worried his dashes through the John Labatt Centre aisles are too dangerous”). Sometimes, as in Edmonton’s 2013 Brier, players throw caution to the wind and play to the audience. When it seemed that Kevin Martin could get in with a loss by Ontario’s Howard team, the crowd tried to throw him off his game with noise. Glenn embraced that heckling with a “bring-it-on” gesture, thus lightening and enlivening the crowd atmosphere.   Guy Hemmings in his Brier years became an entertainment specialist and how Jeff Stoughton brings a crowd to life with his 360 spinarama delivery (only when out of contention).

Voluntarism – Volunteers can be your best marketing tools. When asked what they are doing March 1 to 9, 2015 they will proudly announce that they get close to the scene of an exciting event. People attract more people. Organizing committees will include a marketing subcommittee, frequently led by experienced and creative marketers. With leadership, this group will generate enough noise to infuse interest outside the curling clubs of the vicinity.

Venue size should match the event expectations – While the Brier and Olympic Trials can command a venue the size of an NHL Arena in the Prairies, the Scotties appears more successful in a 5000 seat ice house in regional curling centres. Venues can also benefit from event results, as happened in Kingston where Team Homan attracted plenty from Ottawa for their 2013 playoff push.

Distance from the action. Like tennis, the size of the projectile is insignificant to the size of the venue. Think of curling as if it was a concert. The spectators in the nose bleed sections need some intimacy, too. At a concert, large screens project that intimacy. Curling could benefit from similar large screens, like the ones that entertain the Patch attendees. Adopt/adapt more technology to allow spectators a clear idea of what is happening within the four foot of the pin. An app perhaps?

Cross Market with other sports: What if flag bearers were in-line skating hockey players; or Olympians of rhythmic gymnastics or trampoline expressed their skills in the ends of the rinks between games or fifth end break. Toronto could market the Pan Am Games at this year’s Scotties, introducing cycling and fencing for their own cross-marketing. Remember, other sports have similar challenges of audience. Work with them. UNITE!

Finding the right urban centre – In http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/06/06/top-10-cities-with-the-most-sports-championships, the top ten US cities for championship hosting are primarily based on size of population. Yet, in curling, figures show that Montreal had one of the poorest attendances of any Scotties. All persons interviewed for this article consider Toronto a lost cause as a venue city. Why? There is too much competition for what is still a fledgling sport of curling. Curling can attract spectators, by recognizing:

  • that there are partnerships to embrace;
  • respect for the curling public;
  • other entertainment to be provided as part of major events; and,
  • curling has a National Culture, it just needs nurturing.

This article is similar to edited version in http://thecurlingnews.com/subscribe/

See other curling related blogs at: http://yorkurbanist.com/blog/


February 3rd, 2015
Curling, Uncategorized

As an avid fan of the Brier, it is sad to see the controversy surrounding the changes made by Canadian Curling AXsociation.  If you follow Eastern Canada journalism in 2015, you will find a concern that one of Adam Casey (PEI) or (former Brier Champion from NS) Mark Dacey will not be in the Brier this year because of relegation (assuming they make it through the province). Accordingly, here is a solution for which no charge will be billed to CCA:



This simple change to format would give all teams a minimum of 7 games to prove their worth during the round robin.  As for the championship round, six teams would emerge with the top teams getting a bye to the semi-final. (Click on the image to enlarge and remove fuzziness)


Not including tiebreakers, the winning team will play at least 9 games. No one will deny the depth of curling in Alberta to warrant two teams from that province. Yes, there is a potential national audience killer – if either only Ontario or Alberta  teams end up in the final. But it happens in baseball and football, so what?

Add to this, there is money in a Scotties or a Brier, provincial or national. See http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/01/29/2015-ontario-scotties-as-economic-generator/

2015 will be a telling year. It will tell CCA:

  • No province or territory wants relegation: we are better than that;
  • Audiences will be lost. Translation: fewer curlers in potential growth jurisdictions;
  • Grand Slams could take over as events for national attention.  The Brier is already losing its shine and its attendance. Grand Slam events are televised and have gained TV and live streaming audiences;
  • Calgary fans/attendees will be their usual full-house if there is an Albertan team in the final.  If not, then revenues will not meet plan, likening to the financial fiasco in Kamloops in 2014.
  • IMG_00000529

    Kamloops Brier 2014 – Note crowd in the stands

2015 Ontario Scotties As Economic Generator

January 29th, 2015

What do you think was the economic stimulus of the 2015 Ontario Scotties?  Description: Small venue, 10 teams of four women and a coach, capacity of 250 persons viewing… Dismiss not this valuable commodity.  Consider this:

The Total Economic Impact is comprised of Direct and Indirect expenditures. There are also Induced values.

IMG_00003040Direct Impacts result from expenditures by the organizing committee  and Ontario Curling Association. The expenditures include:

  • employment of staff
  • goods and services to run the event
  • provisions to volunteers and organizers

Indirect Impacts result from the expenditures by individual participants in the event such as volunteers (est. 75), players/coaches (50+), officials (15), families/friends of participants (100+), other visitors (150+) primarily spending on:

  • Hotels
  • Meals
  • Beverages
  • Transportation: fuel; maintenance; rental
  • other externalities

Induced Impacts results from the employees and local residents purchasing good and services during the event, external to normal purchasing. This is a difficult number to evaluate, but assumptions can be made that this event stimulates spending on things other than what happened at the Penetanguishene Curling Club.  The resulting profits from the event will further be expended to improve the Curling Club.  It is the Induced Impacts that warrant the Town’s encouragement to sports groups to be active. And what of the local, provincial and national media attention!!?? There were impacts of which no exact monetary value can be assigned.

To evaluate, consider the time over which planning and actual tournament operations occur.  The planning is one year for a 7-day event.

Travel Impact Industry General Weight
Accommodations 85%
Food Services 20%
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 50%
Retail 5%
Ground Transportation 13%

Without getting into the evaluative details, 2015 Ontario Scotties generated over  $250,000 into the local economy.  This is not a minor economic generator for a small population centre.  The organizers are to be commended for their diligence and community spirit.  Take that to your councillors and area businesses.

If you desire further detail regarding the evaluation, you can contact Mark Inglis at yorkurbanist@gmail.com



January 25th, 2015

Katrina Collins received the OCA sportsmanship award voted by all the players. A richly deserved honour garnered an unexpectedly emotional reaction before the final round robin game. Perhaps it had an impact on the game which followed, the only loss for Team Hastings. Youngest teams Romain and Kee made statements that there is a new generation biting at the heels of the established Teams Middaugh and Hastings.

Penetang CC could not have been more obliging in their hospitality. The players were treated like royalty. Stories abound about the drivers who stopped at nothing to help these athletes. They stayed past 3am on Saturday morning to escort home the weary party-goers. The athletes loved the one-man band, and the treats in the locker rooms (we outsiders should not know about). The locker rooms, although tight became a place of refuge from the crowds of fans one storey up.

OCA listens – An open meeting allowed the curling fraternity to have a say in how competitions can be enhanced. The women of the sport want to see a larger venue. Notwithstanding the warmth and generosity of Penetang CC, they could have sold more seats. Ticket issuing became one of its biggest challenges. There was agreement from those whom I interviewed that the event needs a comprehensive business plan to warrant an arena. Enough said… they listened.

Media censorship? – This column was never edited. The committee took a chance that I would fairly report what happened during the 2015 Ontario Scotties, and behind the scenes, it was something special.

Words at the Scotties

January 24th, 2015

Blackshirts – Look for one of those identifiable volunteers wearing one when you need something. They deliver.

Blanket People – The stalwarts on the edge of Ice 1 who have the fashion footwear booties peeking out from the grey blankets (available for $15). They are unidentifiable having covered the uppermost parts with scarves and toques.

Linesmen – Arrive earlier than one hour prior to the draw, and there they stand outside in a line, in the parking lot, in the cold with toques and scarves…. Not to be confused with Blanket People, because Linesmen want to be inside, behind the glass.

Local Heroes – These are variously the Blackshirts or ones with the last name Howard. Carly reporting on Curling Geek, Glenn on Rogers and SportsNet or Scott just there supporting curling.

Equity – The Scotties teams favored by the media to win are losing unexpectedly to up-and-comers… a sign that there are future stars in the teams at 3-6 and 4-5. Had the last game of the evening ended differently, there was a possibility that only one team would be out of the playoffs – a potential nightmare scenario for the Scotties organizers, averted when Team Harrison won a thriller over defending Team Flaxey.

Change – The OCA organized a discussion venue for change to the Scotties (and other event) playdowns. This is a new direction for OCA which was, until 2014, an unchanging Big Brother to curlers now under the guidance of Dale Curtis. No decisions made, but at least dialogue with the players it affects. Surprise witness to the event was Rachel Homan… important enough to arrive unannounced from Ottawa.