Job title and employer:
Planner, Urban Systems Ltd.
What does your job title mean?
I generate land use policy and regulations for communities in British Columbia
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Picton, Ontario, Canada
Where do you live now?
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Where did you complete your training or education?
- Bachelor of Environmental Studies – Honours Planning, Co-operative Education with Minors in Geography & Environmental Studies and French at University of Waterloo
- Master of Management at Sauder School of Business – University of British Columbia
What you do at work?
I work with communities to develop policy that will guide the future land use and growth of their community. To do this, I work with civil engineers, biologists, landscape architects, GIS technicians, local residents, and politicians. My goal is to make sure that all parts of land use are addressed in our policies. We talk to local residents to see what they like about where they live. We also check to see how they would like it to change for the better in the future. Then we write policy to help reach that vision and goals. We write policy to address a range of topics related to land use. This includes such things as the infrastructure and land use needs. Land use needs looks at how much land a community may need in the future. This could be for industrial, commercial, and institutional activities, as well as housing. It also describes how these can be reached both through the use of policy and maps. We also check to see if the area is under any environmental protection guidelines. We also consider the urban design and transportation needs as well as if there is agriculture or parks and trails in the area.
How does what you do affect people’s lives?
Planning effects how our communities function and grow in the future. Every community has a plan with a 15- to 20-year timeframe. This outlines the changes it will experience and how challenges will be addressed. I love my career because it makes me a fortune teller for communities across British Columbia!
What motivates you in your career?
I love the planning profession because it requires a different way of thinking – there is no black and white or right and wrong. Planners must think about all aspects of a community from a higher-level viewpoint. We also have to know how all of these different parts work together. It involves a lot of working together and big picture thinking. These are the two elements that I love about it most! I enjoy working with other people and understanding how people choose to live. As someone who enjoyed geography, art & architecture, and the social sciences in high school, planning is a great career for me because it combines all of these subjects into one.
How did you get to where you are today?
My undergrad program gave me the skills and knowledge that I needed to be a Planner. The co-op part of my degree was really helpful. This is because it allowed me to work for four different municipalities (3 in Ontario, 1 in BC) and a provincial non-profit organization. In total, this gave me almost 2 years of work experience before I graduated! Having real-world experience before starting my career was fantastic! When I officially entered the workforce I already had a solid understanding of how planning legislation and theory are applied. In addition, as a consultant whose main clients are municipalities, I am able to better understand my client’s needs because I have been in their shoes once before implementing the bylaws and policies that consultants write.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
Hiking, painting/drawing, reading, spending time with friends and family, cooking.
What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?
Read as much as you can about the profession and meet with a Planner for coffee to find out more!
As a female professional, how can you influence the advancement of women in engineering and technology?
Speaking with young women who are interested in STEM careers is the first step. Sometimes the interest is there, they just need encouragement and an opportunity to speak to someone who has been through the process before to inspire them to pursue it! I would love to chat with young women interested in my profession.
When I was in high school, I enjoyed…
Literature and English language arts
When I was in high school, I was someone who…
Enjoyed doing things on my own
Liked helping people
Organized activities for my friends
Was motivated by success
Liked being given specific instructions
Wanted to be in charge
Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
ASTTBC thanks Let’s Talk Science for their partnership in developing this career profile. Let’s Talk Science – a leading partner in Canadian education – is a national charitable organization committed to inspiring and empowering Canadian youth to develop the skills they need to participate and thrive in an ever-changing world. To accomplish this, Let’s Talk Science offers a comprehensive suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators, and volunteers across Canada. For more information about Let’s Talk Science, visit letstalkscience.ca.