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City of Buffalo Press Releases

Posted on: February 6, 2019

Mayor Brown Pleased Buffalo Will Participate in Wintermission Program

City of Buffalo

 Buffalo, NY – Mayor Byron W. Brown was pleased to learn that 8 80 Cities selected Buffalo as one of three cities that will participate in the ground breaking two-year Wintermission program. The three cities are: Buffalo, NY; Eau Claire, WI, and Leadville, CO. All three cities have assembled multidisciplinary teams of city leaders committed to improving public life in winter. Representing diverse geographic locations and population sizes, these three cities will set new standards and precedents for winter friendly cities in the United States.

“I’m proud that Buffalo has been selected as a recipient of the Winter City Vanguard Award by 8 80 Cities, an international civic organization based out of Toronto, Canada. Buffalo will be awarded with a grant to participate in a two-year Wintermission program where we will lead a city-wide conversation about increasing physical activity in the winter. This designation solidifies Buffalo as a city that fosters a healthy, inclusive lifestyle and furthers Buffalo’s international reputation as a winter-wonderland.”

Wintermission aims to increase levels of physical activity in winter for all residents, no matter their age, ability, socio-economic, or ethno-cultural backgrounds. Each city will undertake a process of community engagement, pilot projects, and the development of a unique winter city strategy. The program is led by 8 80 Cities, a non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada. Wintermission is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Global Ideas Fund at CAF America.

“We are ecstatic to be working with such fantastic teams in Buffalo, Eau Claire, and Leadville,” says Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director of 8 80 Cities. “The impressive project teams these cities assembled demonstrate their passion and commitment to being national leaders in combating social isolation and improving public health through strategic investments in winter friendly public spaces.”

In November 2018, 8 80 Cities launched a call for program partners, and challenged U.S cities to assemble diverse teams that would advance the goals of Wintermission. The response was astounding, and 62 cities of all sizes submitted applications. Although only three cities were selected, Wintermission will establish a national network for cities across the country to learn from the actions and strategies of these pilot cities.

Wintermission kicked off in Saskatoon, Canada with delegates from the pilot cities, including Oswaldo Mestre Jr., City of Buffalo Chief Service Officer & Director of Citizen Services.

Mestre stated, “We at the Division of Citizen Services are excited to work specifically with GOBike Buffalo, The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo , Cities of Service - Love Your Block program and The Board of Blocks of Buffalo various stakeholders throughout the city, county, and state, while leveraging the division’s ancillary programs to meet citizens’ needs. The real change lies in the engagement of our residents, the everyday heroes uplifting our community during even the coldest time of year, and their relationships with city services to create sustainable solutions for social isolation during the winter. This opportunity partner with 880 cities is a testament to the very warmth and resilience of Buffalo residents which have deemed us the City of Good Neighbors.”

In February, 8 80 Cities will begin working with each team to collect feedback and ideas from the community on how public life could be improved in winter. These ideas will inspire a series of winter pilot projects to enliven public spaces, which will be launched in winter 2019-2020.

“Winter is a time when people tend to cut back on social and physical activity, and community life dries up; feelings of isolation are especially acute for people who are new to a community and not indoctrinated to winter sports and activities. That can have a negative impact on health and well-being,” said Sharon Roerty, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Cities around the world are rolling out Wintermission project partners include the Children & Nature Network, National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, Winter Cities Institute, City of Edmonton and research and public sector advisors from Canada, Sweden, and Denmark.“

More information about the project at


8 80 Cities is a non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada. We are dedicated to contributing to the transformation of cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places. Our approach is to engage people and communities across multiple sectors to inspire the creation of cities that are easily accessible, safe and enjoyable for all. We achieve our mission through grant projects, advocacy work and our innovative services.

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