The Cadre | UPEI

Downtown Charlottetown Bubbling with Activity

By: Adi Vella

Charlottetown as a city is seeing a wave of community engagement that has been adapted into the business models of local entrepreneurs. Local businesses run by enthusiastic and relatively ‘young’ individuals have created spaces throughout the city, especially in and around the downtown area where community members can revel and engage in casual conversation.

In a communal context, these establishments are crucial in helping their patrons build and maintain relationships outside of workplaces. And here is why that is the case; a ‘third space’ as Ray Oldenburg puts it, is a space accessible by the members of a community that is not their home or place of work. Third spaces can be pubs, microbreweries, tapas bars, cafes or lounges; these are places where people can relax. Such an environment is typified by being “…beyond the intimacy of private domestic roles and the narrow impersonality of the bureaucratic world of work”, as observed by David Hummon in his commentary of Oldenburg’s book, “The Great Good Place”. Third spaces help in fostering a community consciousness as well as offering respite to those seeking a brief break from their hectic (and oftentimes monotonous) lifestyles.

Events and activities that draw on community participation provide an opportunity for local charitable campaigns and organisations to get involved. Raising awareness and funds for philanthropic causes that translate to a palpable change in the local community work well with the allure of these spaces that provide a casual and neutral space. The emergence of local business in and around downtown Charlottetown bodes well for the city. Third spaces are rarely, if ever, created for the express purpose of being the same. Instead, businesses and establishments that are created to be coffee joints, bars, pubs etc. become third spaces because of the additional purpose they serve as an extension of their primary objective.

In Charlottetown, several local businesses are hosting events with community engagement and cultural development in mind; Examples include Upstreet Craft Brewing, Receiver Coffee Co., and The Kettle Black. Incorporating the idea of community engagement into their business models makes the experience of their services a lot more meaningful to their patrons. Everyone is valued and treated as more than a mere transaction (which one can seldom say about large fast food franchises and restaurants). Community and cultural events held at these establishments are excellent opportunities for everyone to come together and network in an unstressed environment. Such events also provide a platform for local and budding artists to showcase their work. The Do-Good fund by Upstreet Craft Brewing is a prime example of how a PEI based business has been supporting the local artist community and continues to do so.

A collective effort by architects, engineers, entrepreneurs, sociologists and many others defines the feel and experience of a city. This rise in the number of popular joints in Charlottetown improves the social life of its citizens. Successful local businesses means that the domestic economy is strengthened and there are many opportunities for these businesses to give back to their community.

Photo submitted by Adi Vella