‘Art Alley’ projects encourage health and community in Windsor

Art Alley joins WIFF Alley in breaking the conventional definition of a thoroughfare.

“This is a welcoming space and this is for the community,” said Pat Papadeas, vice chair of the Downtown Windsor Business Revitalization Association who unveiled the new space with the BIA.

The alley is found between Pelissier Street and Ouellette Avenue behind the parking garage.

“We can activate, we can expand the night market and the farmers' market so that brings people down here. That creates events,” said Papadeas.

The two-phase project features art installations, graffiti art and better lighting. It’s still an alley but more inviting, especially for businesses on Ouellette Avenue who have the space.

Papadeas suspects many will look to take advantage of the opportunity.

“You're going to start seeing them putting out tables in the back or opening up the back entrance and so it really creates activity down the alley,” said Papadeas.

According to Lisa Kolody, the executive director of Windsor-Essex Community Foundation, about 15 different projects have been funded with support from the federal government and Community Foundations of Canada.

“They reach from Pelee Island to the Town of Tecumseh to right here in downtown Windsor,” she said.

Kolody says data from their vital signs survey was used to decide funding priorities.

“If the community says we need more places to gather, we need more walkways, we need safer biking opportunities, we need to work on our environment, then that's what we invest in,” said Kolody.

The Windsor Public Library put a bookmobile named Betty on the road with the funding. Betty has attended many events and provided various library services according to team leader Sue Perry.

“We go to the market once a month. Pretty much anywhere where you can expect a community to gather. We can show up. We already made a library card here today,” said Perry.

Another project soon to be developed thanks to funding is a community patio at the Accelerator on Howard. The area will be a relaxing work/gathering area with Wi-Fi.

“We envision having markets in the parking lot and things like that. Bigger things showcasing. Very much like they do on Pelissier but specifically focused with the businesses we work with,” said CEO Arthur Barbut.

Kolody says only about ten per cent of the submissions received funding but encourages those with ideas to keep posted for opportunities on the Windsor Essex Community Foundation website.

“It is about making our community stronger and to build a sense of belonging,” said Kolody.