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Children in the Planning Process

Sometimes efforts to get children involved in the urban planning process are little more than a cheap attempt to gain political kudos, but other times it is a surefire way to work out the needs of a neighborhood from the perspective of the kids, you can make your mind up on this one, leave your comments below…

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In Stephanie Moran’s perfect park, a child would never get bored. Tired maybe, but never bored.

She was one of more than 60 fourth- and fifth-graders at Phillips Elementary whose input the South Side Planning Forum will incorporate into the latest revision of its neighborhood plan.

Yesterday, the students presented their ideas at a public assembly in the school gym on Sarah Street.

Josette Fitzgibbons, the city’s principal planner, and Judy Dyda, manager of community planning for the South Side Local Development Corp., worked with the children for the past three weeks.

Children offer their input on South Side neighborhood plan

Kids can’t drive, they like interactive environments where there are options for play, learning and adventure. Proximity to shops, schools and libraries is recognized as a great place to start, as involvement in the community and social fabric increases with improvements in street-level interactions. Get the kids out and about in an environment that they want to be in, not one that they have no choice but to exist in.

Municipalities and developers ignore this essential segment of the end user group, and install tot-lot style parks and playgrounds randomly as developer contributions require and usually on the least saleable lot too of course. Kids need parks and playgrounds in an urban or suburban environment, it’s worth asking for their opinion… you might not like what you hear, but you may well be reducing crime or drug use down the road through smarter planning.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.