Duane Elverum and Janet Moore of CityStudio speak about the program at an event Monday. Darren McDonald/UFV

Abbotsford enlists UFV students to tackle litter problem

New project takes aim at five problems, but has licence to fail

By Laura Wilson

Contributor

With litter being a constant concern, cities everywhere have struggled to find an effective solution.

Now, students at UFV are teaming up with staff at the City of Abbotsford to deal with the litter challenge.

The students will be participating in a new program called CityStudio to find creative solutions to the litter problem and four others. They will also try to find ways to boost engagement in municipal matters, the visibility of public art, the use of public spaces, and residents’ pride in local neighbourhoods.

Under the guidance of a professor, students will experiment with new ways of solving persistent challenges faced by the city.

The projects span various areas of study, including business, arts, urban planning, math, and others.

Beyond just putting a new set of eyes on old problems, having students tackle potential solutions allows for more risk-taking than sometimes possible by city staff.

“A big part of experimentation is openness to failure, so a project failing is learning,” said Craig Toews, the vice president external at UFV.

The concept allows students to take the creative initiative and test and revise ideas until they are ready for city-wide use.

CityStudio started in Vancouver, and several projects are already underway there, including the Keys to the Streets project and the Bike Repair Stations project. The Keys to the Streets project provides a public piano where anyone can play, gather, and connect.

Meanwhile, the first two bike repair stations created by the project “failed miserably,” CityStudio’s Duane Elverum told council Monday. Tools were cut off and the stations removed.

But Elverum said the project and the lessons learned from it helped prompt an “explosion” in such repair stations on private land, but available to the public.

The university hopes to provide students with a hands-on way to use what they are learning in the classroom and to expand their understanding of government and community matters.

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