TeachingCity Initiative to be extended by City of Oshawa


Published November 30, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Then-Oshawa Mayor John Henry(centre) and representatives from university and college partners officially open the TeachingCity hub in downtown Oshawa in 2018

Oshawa has signed on for another five years of the TeachingCity Initiative, a partnership with Durham College, Ontario Tech University, Trent University Durham and the University of Toronto that has engaged more than 1,500 post-secondary students in 51 research projects in the past four years.

The initiative, which also includes the Canadian Urban Institute as a partner, has completed a diverse range of projects, from the development of the City’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan to an Air Quality and Traffic Monitoring Study to the installation of public artworks.

Teaching City has an annual budget of $208,500, which includes $130,000 allocated toward projects and student research, and $78,500 to fund the City’s temporary full-time position of TeachingCity Project Assistant.

The post-secondary partners have financially contributed to this partnership since April 2018, partially through a diversion of funding they were receiving from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities to be used to enable experiential learning for students. That fund is no longer available going forward, however, though the schools continue to contribute through in-kind contributions to TeachingCity research projects.

Oshawa has committed approximately $430,000 toward TeachingCity since 2017. This amount has been leveraged by post-secondary researchers to gain approximately $760,000 in additional contributions, both in-kind and cash, through post-secondary education partners and/or with provincial and federal research grant funding.

Additionally, TeachingCity Oshawa partners Ontario Tech University and Durham College were awarded funding of approximately $320,000 through the RBC Future Launch program for City Idea Lab, the curriculum portion of the initiative.

The City and its partners continue to explore opportunities for additional grant funding to support the TeachingCity Oshawa partnership and projects.

Other projects completed by the project team include:

  • Development of the Corporate Facilities Energy Management Plan;
  • Stormwater Management Pond Water Quality Study;
  • Development and launch of the wayfinding tool at Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens;
  • Development and launch of an interactive educational tool along the City’s portion of the Waterfront Trail;
  • Development and implementation of a promotional campaign on pollinators;
  • Development of new technology related to navigation for firefighters which has led to the launch of a student run-business;
  • Update to the City’s Pavement Deterioration Curves.

There are also currently several TeachingCity projects underway, including:

  • Research project examining route optimization for waste collection, street sweeping and snow plowing;
  • Development of an interactive training tool for age-friendly competencies;
  • Development of a virtual reality simulation training system for firefighters;
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of online programs for seniors during COVID-19;
  • Digital literacy workshop for youth;
  • Traffic and Pedestrian Monitoring through sensors at Simcoe Street and Conlin Road.

Progress Reports have been produced annually since the launch of the partnership and are available at [email protected]. Additionally, student assignments through City Idea Lab are available at www.oshawacityidealab.squarespace.com

The TeachingCity Hub is a dedicated space at the Mary Street Parking Garage which hosts City Idea Lab courses and other collaborative projects. While all City Idea Lab courses have been conducted online since Winter 2020 due to COVID-19, the space will return to in person learning next fall and will contribute to the revitalization of the downtown, bringing students from Durham College, Ontario Tech University and Trent University Durham GTA into the downtown core on a regular basis.

Oshawa Council received letters of support from all the partners in the initiative who are all eager to extend the arrangement.

Dr. Steven Murphy, the President and Vice-Chancellor of Ontario Tech, said TeachingCity provides students with opportunities to gain “real-world experience and make a direct impact on their community,” adding that he “strongly supports” the renewal of the deal.

“Experiential learning and community engagement are important drivers to Ontario Tech’s mandate. Our university’s tagline of ‘tech with a conscience’ commits us to finding creative solutions that better the planet and humankind,” he said. “TeachingCity Oshawa is well-aligned with this social mandate and allows our stakeholders to participate on a university-wide level.”

The extension of the initiative will take the partnership to June 2027.

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