News / Toronto

Toronto high school students pitch their city planning ideas

The Urban Minds project challenges young people to be part of the city's major urban planning projects.

Chantel Guo, left, and her friends Anya Sarvanandan and Jacky Duong, present their project on how to make King Street better.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Chantel Guo, left, and her friends Anya Sarvanandan and Jacky Duong, present their project on how to make King Street better.

Chantel Guo and her high school friends do not like the current state of King Street.

Sidewalks are too narrow, crowded and unsafe for pedestrians. There are always too many cars. Public transit is not regular and accessible. Bus waiting areas are not kept warm during winter. And, very importantly, there’s no public Wi-Fi and phone charging ports.

“The whole street is designed for cars and unfortunately young people don’t drive,” said Guo, 15.

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As the city continues to debate the future of King Street, Guo and other young people are pitching in on what should be given priority. On Sunday, dozens of high school students from across the city gathered at Ryerson University for the 1UPToronto Youth Conference, a one-day design jam that brought a young perspective to Toronto’s urban planning initiatives.

Working in groups, students were asked to apply their creativity to reimagine ongoing city projects around the themes of “play, move and eat.” The challenges centred on the redevelopment of King Street, the activation of The Bentway project and the transformation of the Malvern community for better access to healthy food.

Urban Minds project co-founders Katrina Shiu, left, Ryan Lo and Angela Ng.

Eduardo Lima / Metro

Urban Minds project co-founders Katrina Shiu, left, Ryan Lo and Angela Ng.

Working on The Bentway, Hannah Ng and her group envisioned a rock-climbing cave where any teenager would go and hang out with peers, relax or do school homework away from the watchful eye of a parent.

“It would have everything you need. It’s basically like a dream place,” she said.

Ryan Lo, co-founder of Urban Minds project, said the goal is to get more youth involved in the city building process. The winning designs will be shared with city planners for consideration as they move ahead with the projects.

“There’s a big gap between youth and professionals when it comes to city planning,” said Lo, who works with 880 Cities. “This is one way to make young people aware of their capacity as urban changemakers. They have to make an impact on the future of their communities.”

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