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Downtown revitalization

CityStudio students present public space ideas to City of Corner Brook

By Melanie Callahan

Students enrolled in a Grenfell Campus geography course presented their final projects on possible ways to revitalize Corner Brook’s downtown core to city council and planning staff recently.

Delivered and administered through Grenfell Campus’s Office of Engagement, Geography 3350: Community and Regional Development and Planning is the first experiential learning course hosted by the City of Corner Brook’s innovation and experimentation hub, CityStudio.

From left, Corner Brook mayor Charles Pender, Dr. Roza Tchoukaleyska and Colleen Kennedy.
From left, Corner Brook mayor Charles Pender, Dr. Roza Tchoukaleyska and Colleen Kennedy.
Photo: Melanie Callahan

“The students’ assignments and their focus were geared towards coming up with creative, innovative and interesting ways to increase the vibrancy of Corner Brook’s downtown,” said Dr. Roza Tchoukaleyska, the instructor for the course.

“They did this by working both with the city’s goals — the Municipal Sustainability Plan was part of the syllabus — and by reaching out to the community to build up a range of ideas and activities that appeal to people who visit downtown.”

Public spaces

Idea generation began with photo journals of public spaces, of which three were selected.

The class divided themselves into groups; each group focused on a specific place in the downtown region of the city and developed a public space animation and revitalization program for their chosen site.

Jessica Galliott talked about the benefits of murals in the Smithville area in Corner Brook.
Jessica Galliott spoke about the benefits of murals in the Smithville area in Corner Brook.

Group members also met with members of the city’s planning staff to learn more about the municipal planning process. Their research then involved a practice pitch session, where students presented to university staff, faculty and members of the community.

“That was a process of testing out their ideas and peer review to further develop and strengthen their public space animation proposal,” Dr. Tchoukaleyska said.

Synergies created

The semester’s work ended with a final presentation. The three proposals were co-created and designed by students and city staff with guidance and support from Dr. Tchoukaleyska.

The goal of CityStudio is to find innovative solutions to complex problems while giving students tangible skills working on real projects.

This first course created synergies for future collaborations, said Dr. Tchoukaleyska. The students’ ideas for ways to improve the city’s downtown core were met with enthusiasm and praise by members of city workers. 

Chris Ratcliffe presents on waterfront development
Chris Ratcliffe presents on waterfront development.

“Grenfell and the City of Corner Brook are important institutions in the region; together, through projects such as this one, we will continue to build the socio-economic and cultural strength of this region,” said Dr. Mary Bluechardt, vice-president, Grenfell Campus.

“This pilot program further strengthened our ties with the city by literally moving Grenfell faculty, students and staff into City Hall to work on projects with city officials. Students have gained valuable applied experience, while at the same time providing innovative solutions to regional and community planning issues. We’re thrilled that Corner Brook city council is supportive of this project and has agreed to partner and collaborate with our students, faculty and staff this fall.”

“The proposals are supportive of our goals to attract residents to the area and help us to promote economic development and industries, such as tourism.” — Charles Pender

“CityStudio has proven itself to be a very successful joint partnership,” said Mayor Charles Pender.

“We anticipate the ideas proposed will be effective and will be carefully considered in the redevelopment of areas of Corner Brook’s downtown. The proposals are supportive of our goals to attract residents to the area and help us to promote economic development and industries, such as tourism. Our council is pleased with your enthusiasm for the downtown core and we want to thank all of the students involved.”

The proposals

Smithville Mural Project

Smithville is a primarily commercial area located in downtown Corner Brook. Currently the area is devoid of colour. The students proposed a mural project that would see the installation of murals on some of the over 20 building exteriors currently available. “Artwork is found to increase public engagement within an urban area and will be a positive first step in revitalizing Smithville,” the students said in their presentation. A mural ‘festival’ including an outdoor market, vendors and live music was also proposed.

Outdoor Skating Rink

A group of students sees Majestic Lawn, situated near the West Street business district, as a great site for a potential outdoor skating track, accessible to residents throughout the winter months. The construction of a new track combined with the use of the current gazebo makes this centrally located grassy area the ideal location for a skating rink. This project would align with the city’s municipal plan as it adds to the availability of leisure destinations and improves the area’s aesthetics.

Revitalization of the Waterfront

Corner Brook’s waterfront offers a unique opportunity for community revitalization. The three-phase project is about improving the aesthetic features of the area of the waterfront, first through benches, walkways and general cleanup, and then includes bigger, more permanent initiatives. The student group used case studies from around the world and developed a plan for a waterfront that was functional and attractive while respecting the environmental integrity of the area.

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