Spence neighbourhood students pitch field of dreams to mayor

​Some Winnipeg students skipped school Monday morning to meet with local bureaucrats at City Hall.

Middle-school students' designs to be built at Sherbrook and Cumberland green space

The students hosted public consultations on their proposal at the Forks on May 11. (Submitted/HTFC Planning & Design)

Spence neighbourhood students went to City Hall Monday to school local officials on green space at Sherbrook Street and Cumberland Avenue. 

About 30 middle-school students met with Mayor Brian Bowman and innovation committee chair Coun. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel McIntyre) to pitch their plan to reinvigorate a local park.
Students presented their proposal to Mayor Brian Bowman and Coun. Cindy Gilroy on Monday. (Submitted/HTFC Planning & Design)

"The first thing I noticed is that it was really busy," said 15-year-old Mayumi Martin, a student at nearby Hugh John Macdonald School.

"How should we build around that?" she said. 

Winnipeg School Division students from several neighbouring schools participated in a two-day crash-course in landscape architecture. The students visited the site and brainstormed ways to generate community and create a gathering place at the outskirts of the downtown core.

Students from neighbouring schools participated in a 2-day crash-course in landscape architecture, including a trip to the site to imagine what it could become. (Submitted/HTFC Planning & Design)

"We wanted to include public art and [bring] the community in together in the space," Martin told CBC's Information Radio.

Rachelle Kirouac, a landscape architectural intern at HTFC Planning & Design and project co-ordinator for the Youth Studio 2018 project, challenged the students to apply what they had learned to devise their own designs.

Students presented the results to elected city officials for their approval, as the youth learned about the ins and outs of council.

The final design — which was revealed Monday — will become a temporary instalment. It pulls together the students' individual ideas for a meeting space, Kirouac said, complete with benches and a reflection of the neighbourhood's cultural mosaic. The young designers considered how food security, public art, cultural diversity and accessibility all come in to play.

Plans for the park at Sherbrook Street and Cumberland Avenue, including a mosaic at a) and a 'wishing gate' with a big sign that says 'welcome' at site b. (Submitted/HTFC Planning & Design)

Students and families are invited to help put their ideas into action at the end of the month, though permits and donations are still pending. 

Kirouac targeted students in hopes of empowering them to create change.

"It was really important for us to look at this young generation as the next generation of urban designers, landscape architects and community leaders," she said. 

Residents can expect the rejuvenated public space to crop up by June 23.

With files from Information Radio