Grade 6 Students Look to Solve Issues of Urbanization

As part of their City 2020 final project, Grade 6 Humanities students were presented with a driving question: “As urban planners, how can we design a city that addresses the issues of urbanization?”

Students research the many issues raised by urbanization such as water shortage, air pollution, traffic, homelessness and food supply. Each student, in collaboration with classmates, looks at what sustainable and innovative solutions are available to address these issues. Once the students have decided on the most viable solutions, they will implement them into their urban designs and construct their sustainable cities in 3D, either physically or virtually.

There are some excellent examples of innovative solutions happening right here in our very own city. Dockside Green is on the cutting edge of sustainable urban development. They have an onsite wastewater recycling facility, they use alternate energy sources, and design space in a way that allows for multi-purpose community building. Dockside Green is working alongside another innovative company that promotes sustainability in our community: Topsoil. This company converts underutilized urban space into food-producing areas. After the students visited the wastewater recycling facility tour, they walked the half-block to the the Topsoil site to meet with Chris Hildreth, Topsoil’s founder, to learn about food production.

Here are a few student perspectives from the field trip:

by Alden W.

I learned a lot on the field trip to Dockside Green and Topsoil. I was very impressed by the work these people put into their projects. I was intrigued by the methods used in the wastewater recycle centre and the thought put into those methods. I thought the bugs were a great solution for taking the bad things out of the water. The UV light was very smart too because it killed off any of the living bugs.

SMUS-MS-Urbanization-02It was also amazing how the computers ran almost the whole operation. I think that this solution is great and it seems pretty affordable. I think we could include this system in our city and use the water for watering our green spaces and for toilets. The rooftop gardens are a great idea because they are very local and most rooftops aren’t being used. Also I thought the material used for the pots was great because it absorbed the water that wasn’t needed by the plants so that they don’t drown and the extra water wouldn’t put weight on the roof. We could use this with all or a lot of our buildings in our city so that we have a local food source. I learned quite a few things, but I think the most important thing was that water can be cleansed and used over and over again.


by Ava G.

I thought the trip to Dockside Green was amazing. I thought the wastewater recycling centre was so innovative and inspiring. Being able to reuse all of our shower, sink and washing machine water is a really smart way to conserve water. My favorite part about it was their cleaning tanks. Instead of using chemicals to purify the water, they use bugs. By using bugs, the water gets cleaned naturally. By using UV light afterward, it kills the bugs that have escaped. I think this is super important because it shows other urban planners that it is possible to do this on a large scale.

Chris from Topsoil blew my mind. With his super smart ideas about rooftop gardening, I think he is at the forefront of the roof gardening trend. I think all of us students have now incorporated rooftop gardens into our City 2020 design. I would love to further investigate how much water Dockside Green saves by using this water reusing method. Overall, I thought everyone learned something new, innovative and exciting that is happening right here in Victoria to address the issues of urbanization.


by Callum W.

When we went on our field trip to Dockside Green, I expected all we were going to do was look at boring diagrams. I never thought that I would actually be invited inside the plant. I was wrong!

It was amazing to see everything from the raw effluent (disgusting) to the anoxic tank with bugs (you could actually see them swimming around, it was so gross), to the UV filters for the water (neat, but really bright). I think that I could apply the usage of grey water for the irrigation of the agricultural centre I am designing for my City 2020 project. I got the idea from the fact that the low pressure part of the recycling plant was used to irrigate the surrounding trees and plants. This is important because it reduces the water usage in our city. I’m going to look into algae versus bugs.

I also enjoyed seeing commercial farming in the city by Chris at Topsoil. It was cool to see the different types of plants and how they were growing. This gives me insight for my own garden and for my sustainable city. I will use covers for less hardy plants outside because the wind can wreck their delicate stems. Rooftop gardens are important because we are running out of growing space. Chris showed us how commercial farming in an urban setting in Victoria can work. I think that this was a valuable trip, which should be repeated each year.

(photos by Tanya Lee)


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