Explore our Projects

CityStudio Sault Ste. Marie aims to create social innovators and change makers who will contribute on the ground in the city of Sault Ste. Marie.

These projects are crowd-based solutions designed and implemented by teams of students, city staff and community members.

Winter 2022

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Bi'Minowaaseyaa - Downtown Lightbox Project Part 2

How do we create safer spaces in the downtown core?

Term: Fall 2021/Winter 2022

Students: Irene Gray, Shemia Nelson, Desiree Watson and Helene Proulx

Instructor: Andrea Pinheiro

City of SSM: Virginia McLeod, Manager of Recreation and Culture

Course code: VISA3456 Visual Art Internship


The Project

The Algoma University Visual Arts Internship Program in partnership with Arts & Culture and CityStudio SSM have designed a public art project to enrich arts and culture within the city of Sault Ste. Marie, while also making the city safer. 

Our goal is to support the local art community by installing artworks that enhance safety within public spaces. Working with the Sault Downtown Association and local businesses, light-box display cases will be installed within problematic exterior downtown city sites. These light boxes will display artwork that promote wellness as well as physically lighting up the area thus creating a safer environment. 

Our initial artist’s proposal involves the work of a fourth year Visual Arts student; Shemia Nelson.  Her digital drawings of Anishinaabe children will be displayed downtown in the Bi’Minowaaseyaa light-boxes to portray a sense of hope for the future.

Project example


Project example

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Revitalizing Downtown Sault Ste. Marie Part 2

What strategies can we use to revitalize our downtown core?

Term: Winter 2022

Students: Matthew Budau, Victoria Fitzgerald, Mahak Syed, Riley Coulter,

Instructor: Dr. Jody Rebek

Partners: Tom Vair

Course code: ADMN4607


The Project

Fourth Year students in ADMN4607, Business Policy and Strategy, were given a brief of the City’s current downtown strategy. Students were asked to develop a marketing plan to discover different ways to approach challenges faced by the city. The city’s main goals included ways to encourage and attract more diverse businesses to increase the “business mix” in the downtown core, opportunities for foreign investment, and increasing traffic and accessibility. 

In groups, the students continued to develop the strategies that they have created in part one. Students had the opportunity to collaborate with key community stakeholders to finish developing 3-5 streamlined strategies for the municipality to take. 

The “Northern Waters Consultants” group focused on increasing public recognition of Sault Ste. Marie’s downtown as an eco-friendly, vibrant, welcoming, and most importantly safe place. The group aimed to do this through the following strategies: 

  • The Development of Downtown Districts 
  • Eco-Streetscape which will implement a clean street project, a pathway lighting project and an e-bike share pilot. 
  • Incite Buy-In program that will incentivize investment in both new residential opportunities and professional businesses. This will include a wage support program for businesses that extend hours of operation into the evening and a Residency Support program, that will support the development of new housing and implement strategies to reduce the food desert in the downtown core.

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Voluntary Local Review

How aligned is Sault Ste. Marie with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

Term: Winter 2022

Students:  All students enrolled in CESD 2306, 3907, 4907

Instructor: Dr. Elaine Ho-Tassone

Partners: Emily Cormier, Sustainability Coordinator

Course code: CESD 2306, 3907, 4907


The Project

Local and regional governments are increasingly engaging in such sub-national reviews of SDG implementation, also called Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). While the VLRs hold no official status, the process of undertaking these sub-national reviews is providing multiple benefits to the entities engaging in them and to SDG implementation at large. Sault Ste. Marie is now undertaking the process to make our community more sustainable, liveable and more prosperous for all people. 

Using the City’s Official Plan, thirty-two CESD students assessed the current position and planning of the City through the lens of one or more Sustainable Development Goals (or a subset of a Goal’s targets and indicators) to determine which national and international targets are relevant to Sault Ste. Marie, how the current planning direction of the Official Plan (Backgrounder) addresses any of the Canadian and international SDG targets, and to provide recommendations regarding what the City needs to do in order to make progress on the applicable targets/goals. 

Their findings now form the City’s consideration of how and whether a more comprehensive Voluntary Local Review process will be undertaken.

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The STAY Network - A Strategy to Reduce Youth Outmigration in Sault Ste. Marie

How do we reduce Youth Outmigration in Sault Ste. Marie?

Term: Winter 2022

Students: Lauren Moran, Olivia Pase, Kendall Mitchell, Carina Joneit

Instructor: Dr. Elaine Ho-Tassone

Partners: Travis Anderson, Director of Tourism and Community Development

Course code: CESD3907/4907


The Project

Youth retention is essential to ensure population growth in a community – many Northern Ontario communities, including the City of Sault Ste. Marie is experiencing substantial growth of their senior population, yet the younger population is declining. The attraction and retention of youth is a critical component to developing a vibrant community. Sault Ste. Marie will experience a detrimental labour shortage in the coming years if we don’t start retaining the youth.

CESD students have proposed that the City establishes “The STAY” program, an apprenticeship intermediary for the city of SSM that allows young people to explore meaningful, paid employment beginning in grades 11 and 12 at local high schools. It is the goal of the STAY program to connect with local businesses, educational institutions and the City of Sault Ste. Marie to gauge the current needs of the labor market and prepare students to enter those positions. The overarching concept of an intermediary is to bridge public education with local industries to prepare young people for the world of employment in a very concrete and powerful manner.

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Winter arts and culture Festival - A Proposal for A Winter Arts & Culture Festival

What are some ways we can build tourism in the Winter months?

Term: Winter 2022

Students: Josie Weir, Makayla Braganca, Stephen Hawkins

Instructor: Dr. Elaine Ho-Tassone

Partners: Tourism Sault Ste. Marie

Course code: 


The Project

The proposed project is a winter arts and culture festival “Winter Moon”, with the goal of providing recreation and connection in the winter months that engages youth and exhibits Indigneous culture through interactive outdoor and indoor activities. 

The proposed Winter arts and culture festival will be a 3-day Indigenous arts and culture winter festival each year in February. The festival will be a compliment to the Bon Soo festival as well as the annual Summer Moon festival in June. The event will feature a variety of activities to engage with the community. Below is a list of the planned activities.

  • Youth mural design creation workshops 
  • Powwow and Drumming Circle
  • Indigenous craft show and workshops
  • Elder storytelling at various community spaces
  • Winter street party with outdoor catering 
  • Student art contests focused on various SDG themes including Peace, Prosperity, People, Planet & Partnerships.
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FEED Sault Ste. Marie

How do we support the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 to “end hunger, ensure food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” in Sault Ste. Marie?


Term: Winter 2022

Student: Rakesh Maddikunta

Instructor: Dr. Elaine Ho-Tassone

Partners: Pending (An extension of the VLR project)

Course code: CESD2306



The Project


The project’s primary objective is to provide nutritious and sufficient food essentials to low-income families, indigenous communities, and racialized communities through an easy and efficient approach. 


The FEED (Food Essentials Effortless Delivery) project is an online application built using modern technologies which will provide easy and prompt delivery of food essentials to low-income families, Indigenous people, and residents within the city at their doorstep. 

Implementing this project will result in a stronger reduction in hunger & food insecurity in the city. Our community will be more resilient if poor citizens receive the necessary help to become productive and positive contributors.

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Creating Cross-Cultural Spaces

How do we make TopSail Island in Sault Ste. Marie more inclusive, safe and age friendly space?

Term: Winter 2022

Student: Megan Maguire

Instructor: Dr. Nairne Cameron & Kylee Adam

Partners: Virginia McLeod

Course code: GEOG2216


The Project

Students were tasked to complete a site assessment of an identified outdoor space within Sault Ste. Marie. The assessment would look at use/user, accessibility, amenities and furniture, accessibility, green environment, and local culture. 

It has been suggested to the City of Sault Ste Marie to implement an accessible and culturally inclusive arbour that would have little to no environmental impact after its construction. The fire arbour provides a space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students and community to gather, learn and practice ceremonies.

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Re-Envisioning Summer Moon Festival

How do we reach a younger audience to increase visitorship to the Summer Moon Festival in Sault Ste. Marie?

Term: Winter 2022

Students: Amanjot, Gayathri Sasidharan, Heena, Navneet Kaur, Simarjot Singh, Vimaljit Kaur

Instructor: Kareem Roberts

Partners: Josh Ingram

Course code: ADMN4896


The Project

The summer moon festival is a local festival focused on large scale public art installations. As the local events landscape continues to shift the decision has been made to shift to a 3-5 day festival with a heavy focus on local indigenous offerings. 

ADMN4896 Business Students were asked to do an assessment of the current programming and marketing strategy for the Summer Moon Festival in Sault Ste. Marie, then to provide recommendations and samples for future programming and branding to capture a younger audience. Two marketing campaigns were developed in order to run an A/B test to determine the best overall engagement, and similar multi-discipline/youth centered festivals were reviewed for similar content.

Fall 2021

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Lightbox art at night

Project Description: Upper year Visual Arts students are responding to the concern for safety in the downtown area by creating brighter spaces using lightboxes displaying local art pieces. The students involved in part one of this project, completed a full public art proposal that will be used to complete the final phase of the project in the Winter semester.

Project Status: Part one completed, will continue during the Winter 2022 semester.


Project Description: The students of ADMN4606 will work in small groups of 6 or less students blended from Algoma University and the COIL program on 1-3 project areas in support of the Downtown Revitalization Strategy. Students were given a brief of the current downtown strategy and asked to develop a marketing strategy to attract the following:

  • Diverse businesses to increase the ‘business mix’ in the downtown core
  • Foreign investment
  • More consumerism/traffic in the downtown core

Project Status: Part one completed, will continue during the Winter 2022 semester.


Project Description: Students from Algoma University’s Environmental Science program prepared some of the components that will ultimately contribute to a modern Urban Forestry Plan and Tree Canopy Study which will provide an in-depth understanding of the current tree canopy coverage, ecological benefits of the urban forest, specifically carbon sequestration, as well as a gap analysis regarding urban forestry best practices and current City practices with recommendations on how to ensure sustainable tree stewardship on public and private lands to enhance and preserve the urban forest in Sault Ste. Marie over the next 10 years.

Project Status: Part one completed, will continue in the Spring 2022 semester.