A class from Ecole Willows gave Oak Bay council a run for their money Thursday when they presented a diorama and gave creative solutions and recommendations to improve a busy Oak Bay travel corridor.
Mr.Murphy's Grade 5 class has been working for months on the project to re-envision the Cadboro Bay travel corridor around their school, which includes the intersection at Bowker Avenue.
In November, the students had an opportunity to seek guidance and advice from architects, politicians, police, and a facilitator from Hub for Active School Travel (HASTe) who came to their classroom for a presentation and discussion on urban design, safety, and the importance of alternate modes of transportation, such as cycling and walking.
"This is an amazing project because it brought real meaningful learning into the classroom. The kids feel like they can have an impact," said Murphy.
The re-envisioning initiative began in light of Oak Bay council confirming they would move forward with creating bike lanes from Foul Bay Road to Bowker Avenue. The Willows PAC and students are trying to get council to consider expanding to include the Cadboro Bay corridor from Bowker Avenue to beyond the school in this year's budget.
During rezoning for the Bowker Collection at the corner of Bowker and Cadboro Bay, Abstract Development committed $100,000 as an amenity, earmarked for upgrades to the intesection. The company has been working with Murphy's class during the re-envisioning and invited the students to decorate the construction site hoarding with art panels in an effort to raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities at the intersection.
"I would like to thank you for your involvement in the intersection," said Abstract's founder and CEO, Mike Miller, to the students at the unveiling of the artwork last week. "Thank you for taking ownership in your own community to try to make it better. Sitting back and watching things happen is one way of doing it but getting involved in your community and making your voice known is really what makes a difference."
The students presented their final work to Oak Bay council Thursday night during a budget estimates committee meeting. Their presentation was professional and well-received. It was so successful in fact that Coun. Michelle Kirby, the school liaison, jokingly fretted about her job security should the students choose to some day run against her for council. While budget wasn't part of the re-envioning exercise, Mayor Nils Jensen said perhaps the students could do that next year and the job would be completed for council, they would just have to implement.