What makes a great place? Ask 100 people on the street, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers. We all have our opinions of what makes a city or town great - be it the local shops and services, the beauty of its parks and public spaces, or distinctive characteristics of their neighbourhoods - just to name a few.

The Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) is the national voice of Canada's planning profession, and for the fifth year running, they’ve held the Great Places in Canada contest.

The contest awards the title of Great Street, Great Neighbourhood, and Great Public Space to a nominated place in each category, through both jury selection and public votes.

There were 29 nominations in this year’s contest, and the Great Places in Canada jury (consisting of seven professional planners) finally narrowed it down, with the winners announced during CIP's celebration of World Town Planning Day 2015, which was held from November 4-6, 2015. 


Grand Prize Winners

Great Street

  • Broadway – Orangeville, On

Great Neighbourhood

  • West End – Vancouver, BC

Great Public Space

  • Stuart Park – Kelowna, BC

Honourable Mention, Great Public Space

  • Grizzly Plaza - Revelstoke, BC

The People's Choice winners are:

Great Street

  • Broadway – Orangeville, On

Great Neighbourhood

  • Historic Downtown Amherstburg – Amherstburg, On

Great Public Space

  • Labatt Memorial Park – London, On


And what makes Broadway in Orangeville a Great Street and the winner of the two titles?

"To be great, a street must be a destination in its own right. Broadway fits the bill as an inviting place at the heart of Orangeville,” said Ben Petch MCIP, RPP, contest juror. "Historic buildings, contextual redevelopment, and attention to the pedestrian experience combine in a unique place enjoyed daily by shoppers, workers and visitors alike. Institutional uses anchor the street and give it purpose, while restaurants, landscaping, and patios enable people to enjoy the space and enliven the street with activity. Festivals and events regularly invite people to experience the street, and contribute to Broadway's dynamic character. The jury was impressed by the central role Broadway plays in the community, along with the heritage character and streetscape design."

Great Neighbourhood winner, the West End in Vancouver, was chosen because “the West End makes it easy, safe and inviting for residents to walk and bike to work, to access thriving local businesses and to explore Vancouver's beaches, trails and Stanley Park,” according to juror Jaspal Marwah.

Juror Kevin King has this to say about Stuart Park: "Stuart Park bridges the re-emergence of Kelowna's downtown within the incredible natural setting of the Okanagan Valley. Energized by a civic plaza, the park comes alive at all seasons. Ultimately, the jury was won over by the multiple strengths of the park – its everyday use, community focus, unique reflection of local character and natural environment, accessibility for multi-generational activities, and the significant role it already plays as a Great Place in Kelowna."

As for Grizzly Plaza in Revelstoke - jury member Jeff Merrill said, "Grizzly Plaza is a great public space, and the plaza was created as part of a downtown revitalization project. The jury was impressed by Grizzly's welcoming family-friendly environment. The pedestrian plaza adorned with public art sets the stage. However, it's the people who patronize the plaza's quaint shops, who socialize with strangers, and who dance in the street who make Grizzly Plaza a great public space."

Hey, let’s not forget to mention the also-rans, because we’re sure that the residents of these places are just as proud of their chosen home towns and cities.

Great Street 1st and 2nd runners-up

  • Wolfville's Main Street – Wolfville, NS
  • Pictou Lobster Carnival – Pictou, NS

Great Neighbourhood 1st and 2nd runners-up

  • Quartier Petit Champlain – Quebec, QC
  • Cobble Beach Golf Resort Community – Kemble, On

Great Public Space 1st and 2nd runners-up

  • Lethbridge River Valley – Lethbridge, AB
  • Stuart Park – Kelowna, BC

Top photo: The Great Places in Canada 2015 winners - Stuart Park, Kelowna; Broadway, Orangeville; West End, Vancouver (courtesy of the Canadian Institute of Planners)