Bluewater District School Board

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Students Envision Sustainable Communities

Students Envision Sustainable Communities
Posted on 09/26/2022
Student presents virtually on a sustainable communityStudent presents virtually on a sustainable communityA group of students from Owen Sound District Secondary School are offering up innovative solutions related to climate action and sustainability for our region.  For the past few years, Tobin Day’s Grade 9 geography class has participated in a summative task where students are asked to design a sustainable community somewhere within Grey and Bruce counties.

On Thursday, September 22, 2022, three students from last year’s class presented their projects at the youth-focused Grey Bruce 2040 | 2050 – Climate Forum held virtually on Zoom.  Students drew general outlines of their maps to scale and incorporated topography, water features, and existing buildings they felt should be maintained.  It was a tremendous learning opportunity involving the research of community design, road systems, building materials, affordable housing, food and energy production, recreation, green spaces, waste, and other topics of interest.  All aspects of sustainability were part of each project, including the environment, society, and the economy.  Students were allowed unlimited start-up funds with the main objective being to focus on solutions to climate change, and consider which ones work best in our region.

In their presentations, the students addressed the following question, which is also being shared as part of Student Vote with candidates for the upcoming municipal election:

With the growing population, Ontario has not built enough houses to keep up.  According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, we need to build 1.5 million more homes in Ontario by 2030.  How do you plan to help our municipality keep up?

Belle Walpole’s presentation focused on a sustainable community in Leith, Kamyla Fisher based her project on an eco-friendly village in Allenford, and Mia McNab shared her proposed community for Kilsyth.

Student presents virtually on a sustainable communityEach student spoke to their unique vision, which included houses and buildings reliant on geothermal energy, solar panels, and construction materials, such as bamboo, recycled timber, rammed earth, and insulated concrete forms.  Ideas around food production incorporated farming, greenhouses, power-operated biodomes, hydroponic and aquaponic crop systems, local food stores, and beekeeping.  Roads could be made from recycled asphalt, concrete, or plastic, while for transit, the students shared ideas for a regional transportation system, an electric bus service, solar panel parking lots, bike pathways, and pedestrian-friendly communities.  The presentations addressed the importance of green spaces and offered a diversity of environmental solutions, such as geothermal energy, greywater and green bin systems for waste reduction, water wells, and rainwater collection for a range of reusable purposes.  Focusing on solutions helps people feel hopeful, and our students are showing amazing leadership and instilling optimism in their visions for a sustainable future in local communities!

Following the presentation, an attendee from Glassworks Co-op, an eco-village starting in Owen Sound, was so impressed that she invited all three students to the organization’s upcoming celebratory BBQ to connect, share, and learn.

The Sustainability Project hosts monthly Climate Forum gatherings and organizes Regenerate Grey Bruce.

View the Grey Bruce 2040 | 2050 – Climate Forum and three student presentations here:

Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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