Amid the age of global climate change, the Halton District School Board is proud to announce a unique partnership with national not-for-profit organization Evergreen, to help transform the school grounds of an existing school into a valuable climate-resilient learning space.
Part of our partnership with Evergreen
and engagement in their new Climate Ready Schools
program is a first of its kind in Canada and provides a progressive approach to addressing climate change and school ground design. It gives the HDSB the opportunity to create enhanced experiences for student development in which they can connect hands-on with the environment. The overall aim of this project 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 project involves a unique child-friendly participatory design and public engagement process to address the redevelopment. It will provide opportunities for HDSB staff to share knowledge and experiences, to 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.
Specifically, the goals of this project will include:
- Adapt to the changing climate through managing stormwater on site and moderating temperature and wind speed
- Nurture child development: physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially
- Support a significant increase in outdoor play and learning
- Serve the community by adding value outside of school hours
- Addressing site challenges that lead to soil erosion and poor drainage
A selection committee was formed to determine the first school to participate in this new partnership. The committee examined existing site challenges typical to many schools in the country including soil erosion and compaction, inadequate grading and shade issues. A short-list of schools was developed following the committee's work and Irma Coulson Public School in Milton was selected.
“This project is intended to not only address physical site challenges but to engage students, staff and the local community in understanding the role designed environments have on learning, play, community resilience and ecological systems,” says Maia Puccetti, Superintendent of Facility Services and Planning for the Halton District School Board. “We look forward to working with Evergreen and its partners in the implementation of this visionary project.”
“Evergreen is thrilled to be partnering with the HDSB on this wonderful opportunity to bring world class talent to a redesign of a Canadian school ground,” Orit Sarfaty, Chief Program Officer with Evergreen. “Climate-Ready Schools builds on our 25-plus years of transforming thousands of school grounds into areas of green learning and community. This ambitious and innovative project will support student learning, health and climate adaptation strategies that could be implemented by schools across Canada.”
The Balsam Foundation, Intact Foundation and other key supporters are generously helping fund this project.
“The impact of natural settings on the well-being of students has been extensively documented. This project will explore the effect of thoughtful landscape intervention not only on academic achievement but behavioural and social interactions,” says Suzanne Burwell, the Board’s Environmental Sustainability Specialist. “Working with our municipal partner, the Town of Milton, will ensure the school site becomes an inter-generational destination as well as an extension of the classroom.”
The Climate Ready Schools design process, which is expected to begin shortly, is anticipated to be completed by early spring 2021, with construction starting at Irma Coulson PS in the summer.
For additional information, contact:
Suzanne Burwell, Environmental Sustainability Specialist
Halton District School Board