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City enlisting student creativity to reimagine downtown Calgary's west side

City of Calgary

The City of Calgary is looking for a few young minds to help re-imagine downtown's west side.

That's the idea behind the first Sketch Mob, on Saturday, Jan. 28, an event where students and Calgarians have the opportunity to hit the streets of the west side of downtown and then draw it.

The idea is fuelled by people like University of Calgary student Ian Hernandez, who lives in the area and wants to activate young minds to help brainstorm some ways to kick-start the neighbourhood.

"Sketch Mob is about empowering student and youth voices to take an active role in the future of their downtown and in how their downtown community is planned," said Hernandez, who leads the Urban Calgary Students Association. "A lot of students live or visit downtown and it’s important that they have a stake in its future."

The first Sketch Mob will focus on three Downtown West locations: 11th Street S.W. between 6th Avenue S.W. and 9th Avenue S.W.; 10 Street S.W. between 6th Avenue S.W. and 9th Avenue S.W.; and 6th Avenue S.W. and 4th Street S.W.


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"A strong downtown should be welcoming to people of all ages, especially our future workforce. Supporting Sketch Mob and seeing youth reimagine underutilized public spaces in our downtown is a chance to see what matters and what could be possible," said Kate Zago, planner for the City of Calgary.

"Student voices need to be prioritized when it comes to thinking about downtown revitalization, as they have often unheard perspective on urban planning, public space development, and transportation planning," she added.

Sketch Mob kicks off at noon Saturday in city hall's innovation lab, in the main atrium. All Calgarians are invited to join the mob. Participants will break into groups, then head out to sketching sites, to talk about what they see, how spaces are used and how improvements could be made.

Then they will get to work on their sketches.

"Public spaces are not static and we want young people to view them in that light," said Hernandez. "Downtown public spaces are constantly evolving and Sketch Mob lets young people look at these places in a different light and take ownership of the future of their neighbourhood."

The completed sketches will be displayed online and at the Central Public Library in 2023. Top Stories

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