Defining and exploring public space: perspectives of young people from Regent Park, Toronto
Danielle Leahy Laughlina and Laura C. Johnsonb aDepartment of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield
S10 2TN, UK, bSchool of Planning, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
Young people’s perceptions and uses of urban public spaces have gained attention in recent
years. Research has identified that young people value and relate to local surroundings differ-
ently than adults (Hart 1979, Tunstall et al. 2004). Despite these differences, public space is typi-
cally adult-oriented in terms of socially accepted uses and users (Matthews et al. 2000, Malone
2002, Lees 2003). Young people’s activities and perceptions are not always intentionally
addressed in the planning for public spaces (Iveson 2000). More often than not, they are incor-
porated into planning by either considering them as an implicit population or as part and parcel
of planning for families (Knowles-Yanez 2005, Freeman and Aitken-Rose 2005, Frank 2006).
This gap is now recognised as a shortcoming of urban planning.