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ADT-ATO publishes Canal? Vous avez dit canal?!

ADT-ATO publishes Canal? Vous avez dit canal?!

2014-08-19 – Did you know that in the 19th century, the port of Brussels was about 100 metres from the Place de Brouckère? That in the early 20th century, gargantuan works were carried out in the city centre to move the Willebroeck Canal 60 metres? Or that from the 70s to the 90s, such well-known groups as Eurythmics, The Human League, Joy Division and Blur performed at small venues by the Canal? Today, the Canal Area, with its 2,509 hectares extending over eight municipalities, represents 15.5% of the area of the Brussels-Capital Region and is home to 17% of its population. Some 4,000 public housing units have been built there since 1995.

These are just some of the many facts – often little-known ones – that you will discover in the book Canal? Vous avez dit canal?! – État des lieux illustré du Territoire du canal à Bruxelles. Published by the Urban Development Agency (ADT-ATO) for the Brussels-Capital Region, it is being circulated on a limited scale on paper, but the digital version is available for free download in French and Dutch.

For some years now, the Canal Area has been the subject of renewed attention from the government and fresh interest from the private sector. It is undergoing substantial changes and is now identified as a priority development zone in the Region. But it is still the case that few people know this complex and contrasting area in its various guises, and are able to gauge, for example, the extent to which the Canal’s development has affected the morphology of the city and continues to influence its growth. The subject of many stereotypes and prejudices, the Canal Area is rarely discussed in terms of its potential, diversity and dynamism.

“It is this consideration,” explains Luc Maufroy, director of the ADT-ATO, “that gave us the idea of publishing a work specifically devoted to the Canal Area. We wanted to offer a wide-ranging survey, examining the area’s past and present transformations and provoking debate on its future development. That was three years ago, at a time when far fewer people than today appreciated the importance and potential of this part of the Region. The pace of change has moved up a gear in the last few years.

Through a series of thematic chapters (on geography, history, demography, employment, housing, economy, culture, tourism, leisure, identity and so on), enriched with numerous maps and illustrations, this book gives readers the measure of the issues at stake in the Canal Area. “In order to throw as much light as possible on the various forces at work there,” explains Luc Maufroy, “the ADT-ATO has chosen to supplement its own expertise in this area with contributions from people on the ground and experts, and with interviews of the leaders of public and private organisations. To my knowledge this is the first publication on the Canal to take this kind of wide-ranging, multidisciplinary approach, and to properly reflect the positive contribution of government action to the area’s development, through various programmes.”

The book, which is the fruit in particular of the patient collection and painstaking deployment of numerous statistics, does not confine itself to offering a picture of the Canal Area at a particular point in time. “This publication is part of the monitoring activity being conducted in the area,” says Dirk Van de Putte, deputy director of the ADT-ATO. “Firstly, it reflects our general work of observation, or rather discovery, of the regional territory: this is one of the ADT-ATO’s two fundamental roles and has enabled us to identify emerging trends and new developments in the Canal Area before people in Brusselsare generally aware of them. Secondly, it lays the foundations for the systematic and continuous monitoring of this specific part of the Region, in collaboration with the bodies that issue statistics (on demographic, socio-economic and urban development themes), in order to provide guidance on how best to adapt policy to the issues, challenges, opportunities and needs of the Canal Area, its people and its users.”

Direct links to the electronic version (PDF) of the publication Canal ? Vous avez dit canal ?!: