One of the things we have heard repeatedly over the past twelve months is that there will be new patterns of working, living, travelling and recreation following the impact of the pandemic. It is hard to know how true that will be. However, it does give a really good opportunity to think about how we do things and if they need to change to improve our quality of life. 

The travel and movement restrictions of the past year have re-introduced us to our outdoor areas and our shared spaces. When we could only travel inside the country last year, we got to explore different counties and places which we might not have visited before. One thing that struck me visiting places like Howth and Dún Laoghaire over the weekend was how much we could do to make our shared spaces more family-friendly and give them more of a community feel. 

We also know from the evidence that outdoor activities are less likely to facilitate spread of the virus than indoor activities. With this in mind, I’m really happy that the Government is setting the tone at a national level to promote hospitality and recreation to take place outdoors, from facilitating return to training for children’s teams to providing funding support for outdoor dining to making sensible decisions on fee exemptions for things like street furniture. 

Leadership doesn’t just have to come from the national level either though. We can learn much from local authorities nearer us as well as thus further away. For example, I think we should look at how we compliment our top-class playgrounds with more casual trading sites or possibly outdoor markets where suitable. 

We should think about how we make parks safer by increasing activity and providing more passive supervision with more economic and social activity. This doesn’t just apply to our parks but all our shared urban and public spaces. I’m asking the Council to investigate how we can make this approach work for residents, business and the community as a whole.  

More things happening outdoors brings more challenges though. We’ve seen the pictures of overflowing bins and the challenges presented by lack of public toilets. That’s why we need to avoid a piecemeal approach to an outdoors strategy and take a look at the pros and cons of one.

Key to this is consultation. No one has all the good ideas on something like this! I’m planning on launching a survey to gather public thoughts on how we could build an outdoors strategy that lasts past this summer so watch this space. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think so comment below, give me a shout or send me a message!

In the meantime, let’s hope for some sun!