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Grenfell Campus geography students propose ways to enhance Corner Brook’s waterfront

Olivia Leblanc, left, and Dennis Wass present their geography class project on revitalizing Corner Brook’s waterfront to classmates and municipal officials earlier this week.
Olivia Leblanc, left, and Dennis Wass present their geography class project on revitalizing Corner Brook’s waterfront to classmates and municipal officials earlier this week. - Gary Kean

The area where Griffin Drive meets the Lewin Parkway doesn’t have to be just a boring old parking lot.

If one group of geography students at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus had their druthers, the area would be transformed into a community garden.

The idea was one of four projects presented by this year’s Geography 3350: Community and Regional Development and Planning class. It’s the second year for the course, taught by Roza Tchoukaleyska, using the City Studio concept of collaborating with various community groups to come up with community planning ideas.

All four of the groups from the class concentrated on projects that would revitalize the Corner Brook waterfront.

Dennis Wass was in the group that proposed the community garden concept, which would feature raised garden plots, a community toolshed, decorative art pieces, benches and interpretive and directional signage near the entrance to the nearby section of Newfoundland T’Railway.

“Right now, it’s not an overly inviting lot to draw people in,” said Wass.

In addition to enhancing the parking lot area, Wass and his group proposed removing some of the invasive Japanese knotweed at a section further down Griffin Drive and replacing it with a food forest. The idea would be to replace the knotweed with fruit-bearing flora.

“We proposed putting in useful plants and educating people about what they can grow in Newfoundland, where it is a challenging climate to grow our food and we are extremely food insecure,” said Wass.

The project’s plans also called for a community greenhouse, a community pizza oven and a new gazebo.

Wass said the plan was inspired by the vision outlined by the City of Corner Brook in its Integrated Municipal Sustainability Plan. That vision, he said, includes improving local food production, education, environmental protection and climate change and redeveloping the city’s waterfront to make it more accessible and attractive.

Tchoukaleyska, whose 2016 class focused on projects to improve other public spaces in Corner Brook, was impressed with the ideas fleshed out by this year’s class.

“At the beginning of the course, the students didn’t know what community planning was,” she said. “It is incredible to see the transformation to a point where they can effectively speak about this as a discipline and have the vocabulary and capacity to present ideas.”

She said the students have been so eager about the practicality of their projects that she hopes some of them will continue pursuing the ideas after the class is over.

“It’s wonderful to see them engaged,” she said. “They’re really enthusiastic about their projects and want to see them come to fruition.”

The proposed Corner Brook waterfront enhancement projects:

Griffin Drive revitalization

- Presented by Olivia Leblanc, Dennis Wass, Kady Bilodeau, Jessica Crowley-Youden

- A four-phase project that would see a community garden, complete with a greenhouse and toolshed, along with other amenities, at the intersection of Griffin Drive and the Lewin Parkway. The plan would also include building a food-producing forest further down Griffin Drive.

Waterfront recreation hub

- Presented by Katelyn Osmond, Daniel House, Daniel Hillier, Zach Taylor

- A three-phase plan to create a recreation and leisure multi-use area in Brakes Cove. In addition to a boardwalk from Brake’s Cove to the R.A. Pollett Building, the plans also call for a basketball court that could be used as an outdoor skating rink in the winter.

The Hub

- Presented by Jacob Westcott, Ian Walker, Emily Dluginski, Jerry Callahan

- This project’s focus is on revitalizing the old Corner Brook Pulp and Paper human resources building on Mill Road. The proposal is to refurbish the exterior and interior of the building to make it a link between Corner Brook’s waterfront and downtown areas. It would feature office space for rent on the second floor, along with a community room and a meeting room dedicated to students on the first floor.

Capt. Cook’s trail system

- Presented by Anderson Traverse, Olivia Bennett, Sebastien Benavides-Vargas, Ryan Walker

- The idea of this project is to construct a new hiking trail that would connect Broadway to Quarry Hill Road in Curling and then continue on to the Capt. James Cook historic site atop Crow Hill. The trail would course its way past the softball and soccer pitches located off Atlantic Avenue.

Source: Geography 3350 class at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University

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