Out and About | 24-May-2017

Walking the City

By Rebecca Levere, UTS Canadian and World Studies teacher

Q: What happens when 98 F2 (Grade 8) students travel 20,000 steps (according to Mr. Pullen's pedometer) through the rapidly transforming eastern part of Toronto's downtown?

A: A lot of learning about sustainable urban planning and design!

In F2 geography, students explore ways in which cities can respond to increasing environmental threats, population pressures and the social and economic stresses arising from widening inequality. On May 23, the city became their classroom.

They stood atop Corktown Common and listened to UTS parent Chris Glaisek ’P21, senior vice-president of planning and design for Waterfront Toronto. Chris explained how the park addressed both ecological and community needs, all the while contributing to economic revitalization of the long-neglected part of the city. They packed in some playtime at Underpass Park, an innovative use of lost space under the Gardiner, en route to Regent Park where they learned about the hugely successful revitalization of the neighbourhood from Farid Jalil. Farid is the outreach coordinator for Daniels Spectrum. He grew up in Regent Park and was able to share from a very personal perspective how the changes in planning and design transformed the lives of the neighbourhood's residents.

Then it was time for lunch and exploring at the Distillery District – a brilliant example of the “re-purposing” of a historic space, followed by a final stop at Sugar Beach.

Students went home with sore feet and lots of inspiration for their end-of-year design challenge projects: picking an 'underperforming' site in the GTA and proposing three transformative changes to maximize their site's environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Special thanks to my F2 geography colleague Katherine Joyce '06, to our chaperones, UTS teachers Charlie Pullen, Adam Gregson, Nancy Dawe and Robin Michel, and of course to Chris Glaisek and Farid Jalil.


In the pic: students with teacher, Rebecca Levere, at Underpass Park.