Urban Planning Students Present Revitalization Ideas
Fanshawe's GIS and Urban Planning students and staff have recently wrapped up an exciting collaboration with the Wallaceburg Community Task Force (WCTF).
The joint project involved a week-long design charrette that focused on re-developing and re-imaging the downtown core of Wallaceburg, Ontario. (A design charrette is an intense short-term study on a complex land use planning topic.)
Panoramic view of Wallaceburg waterfront
The charrette was an opportunity to share ideas, provoke interest and bring some youth back into Wallaceburg, a town which in recent years has been plagued by a declining manufacturing economy and decreasing population.
The project was led by Chatham-Kent planning technician Ryan Jacques, a Wallaceburg resident and Fanshawe graduate. Jacques learned the value of design charrettes when he was involved as a student in last year's charrette in St. Thomas that focused on development and conservation of railway lands. About 80 Fanshawe students visited Wallaceburg in late February and early March to tour the town and consult with community members before getting to work on their concept designs.
Student design concept for waterfront development
After a week of intensive work all of the students involved had the opportunity to present their concepts and visions to developers, members of the WCTF, community members and instructors. After a successful day of presentations displaying the students' hard work and creative initiatives, four of the nine student groups were asked to return to Wallaceburg on March 11, 2009, to present their ideas to the community as a whole. See extracts from the four presentations on the Chatham-Kent Daily Post's YouTube channel:
Fanshawe faculty member Kevin Van Lierop, who was involved in the charrette, said, "These types of community collaborations, between educational institutions and the communities which they reside in, are nothing but win-win situations. The students have an opportunity to work on real-life projects that most likely will be able to affect members of the community and invoke change, even if only at the smallest level. The communities involved have a chance to gain the ideas, input and opinions of the students, who are not only the youth of the communities but the people who will (hopefully) be the residents of the community in the future."
A measure of the enthusiasm that greeted the project in the community is coverage in local media. The Chatham-Kent Daily Post ran at least two articles about the charrette as well as posting two videos about the project on YouTube. (An earlier YouTube posting shows Wallaceburg Community Task Force members Dave Elliott and Bruce McAllister discussing the charrette.)
Congratulations to all of the students who participated in this design charrette and a warm thank you to the town of Wallaceburg and its Community Task Force for involving the students and supporting them so well.