Milton school, Halton school board lead new approach to challenges of climate change

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Published October 5, 2022 at 12:40 pm

The goals of the Climate Ready Schools project include supporting a significant increase in outdoor play and learning. PEXELS PHOTO

Milton’s Irma Coulson Public School and the Halton District School Board are teaming up with Evergreen to help tackle climate change.

The Climate Ready Schools project, designed to address the challenges of climate change, will be unveiled Thursday (Oct. 6) at the local public school located on 625 Sauve St.

The first of its kind in Canada, the project provides a provides a progressive approach to addressing climate change and school ground design.

The overall aim is to help mitigate the effects of climate change by cooling outdoor learning sites with shade and better managing the infiltration of stormwater to minimize flooding.

“This is a truly exciting partnership between the Halton District School Board and Evergreen, and draws on the expertise of many professionals from around the world and the generosity of several donors,” says Ian Gaudet, HDSB Superintendent of Facility Services.

“This project delivers many concepts into a stimulating and revitalized school ground that supports the HDSB’s student-led climate declaration designed to address mitigation measures of climate change.”

“The layout and structure of this Climate Ready School site offers so many opportunities for students’ cognitive, physical, emotional and social development,” continues Gaudet. “It supports the HDSB’s outdoor play and learning administrative procedure, and supports many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including ‘Sustainable Cities’ and ‘Communities and Climate Action.’”

The Climate Ready Schools project gives the HDSB the opportunity to create enhanced experiences for student development in which they can connect hands-on with the environment.

This project involves a unique child-friendly participatory design and public engagement process to address the redevelopment.

HDSB staff will be able to share knowledge and experiences, develop new approaches to outdoor learning at other schools, engage municipalities in re-imagining school grounds design and provide an enhanced intra-generational space for the broader community.

“This opportunity to look beyond a small garden or outdoor learning space is exciting as it ties to the HDSB’s 2020-2024 Multi-Year Plan Environmental Leadership area of focus – taking action for a sustainable world, including designing and managing learning environments that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development,” says Suzanne Burwell, Environmental Sustainability Specialist for the HDSB.

“This project is already changing how we design the school grounds of new schools being built. It is also raising the importance of a thoughtful design for school grounds that takes into account the value of greenspaces on all areas of well-being and development of students.”

The goals of the project include adapting to the changing climate through managing stormwater on-site and moderating temperature and wind speed; nurturing child development physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially; supporting a significant increase in outdoor play and learning; serving the community by adding value outside of school hours; and addressing site challenges that lead to soil erosion and poor drainage.

“School grounds provide a sense of place that builds pride and ownership in public space for children and the community by encouraging participation, stewardship and a deep connection to the natural world,” says Lois Lindsay, Chief Program Officer at Evergreen.

“The Climate Ready Schools program is the next step in our over 25-year legacy of transforming school grounds across the country, showcasing how schools and communities play a pivotal role in adapting to climate change.”

The community portion of the unveiling begins at 6 p.m. at Irma Couslon PS.

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