Student Scheme greens Ghetto

Student group spruces up park and town-gown relations

Students spruced up the neighbourhood and community relations with Green Scheme in City Park Aug. 29.
Students spruced up the neighbourhood and community relations with Green Scheme in City Park Aug. 29.

Kingston’s downtown core received several environmentally friendly facelifts this past summer, and Green Scheme can be thanked for the city’s fresh new glow.

Aislinn McCarry, Green Scheme’s manager, said it’s a long-term community stewardship initiative aimed at fusing community groups and university students through a series of environmentally-friendly activities, such as tree-planting and gardening projects.

Green Scheme was launched in March as a result of a challenge raised in Principal Hitchcock’s letter to students entitled “Aberdeen: Moving Forward.” Town-gown relations have been strained since an unsanctioned street party on Aberdeen Street during Homecoming 2005, in which more than 5,000 students crowded onto Aberdeen Street, and a car was flipped and burned.

“Especially since Homecoming, there has been a student versus resident mentality,” McCarry said. “Green Scheme doesn’t only provide the city with aesthetic appeal, it is also a great way to meet people in the neighbourhood. This mentality [of hostility] can be broken down through working together and we are able to talk on the same plane.”

The project is funded by a grant of $9,500 from Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane’s Town-Gown fund, and received another $5,000 from the Community Foundation of Greater Kingston. Since its launch, Green Scheme has successfully completed pilot projects at Sydenham Public School, campus and Elizabeth Cottage.

McCarry said Green Scheme will continue to beautify areas of the city where both students and long-term community members live, primarily in the area around the Ghetto.

Most recently, on Aug. 29, Green Scheme cleaned and groomed the grounds of Navy Memorial Park and hosted a social gathering for students and community.

Ed Smith, city councillor of Williamsville Ward, which contains the western portion of the Ghetto, attended the event and said he supports the project.

“It’s a reminder to the community that good things like this still do happen, even though we forget sometimes,” he said. “Although community involvement has been present for generations, [this project] physically brings it to life at a very timely moment.”

McCarry said the Sydenham Ward Ratepayers Association has partnered with Green Scheme and will continue to support future projects.

Anita Krebs, an executive member of the association, said she’s thrilled the association’s tree fund can assist with projects for the City and possibly ease the tension of this year’s Homecoming.

“This is something that the entire city can appreciate,” she said.

“I hope the community will see how many people have dedicated this much time on preventative measures.”

AMS VP (Operations) Ian Black agreed it’s important for the greater community to see the positive image students are attempting to project through this renewed relationship with the community.

“The attitude this project represents will definitely ease the tensions of Homecoming,” he said. “Relationships will be improved and mutual respect will be built.”

Jeff Wardell and Monica Wilk, both ArtSci ’07, assisted volunteers with the cleaning of Navy Memorial Park and have been active with Green Scheme in the past few months. They said they both hope the project achieves better relations with the Kingston community.

“It’s a really great project,” Wardell said. “I hope people realize this and get involved.”

McCarry said she envisions a green future for the project and hopes to erase the negative student image that was caused by last year’s Homecoming.

“Green Scheme wants to project the image that not all students are rowdy and that they have respect for the city in which they reside,” she said. “I really see it prospering when students come back in the fall.” Green Scheme has a tree-planting project planned for Homecoming weekend along Brock and Johnson Streets, as well as a massive cleaning project that will involve the participation of the AMS.

McCarry laughed in anticipation of the sleep deprivation in store for the group that weekend.

“It will be well worth it.”

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