Saturday, April 23, 2016
From Canadian Business —
How booming cities made urban
planning Canada’s hottest job
Urban growth—not to mention truckloads of infrastructure spending coming down the road—spell opportunity for urban planners.
In August 2014, construction crews in Waterloo, Ont., began building the so-called Ion light rail transit line, an $818-million megaproject that will connect a disparate region known for its tech sector, insurance companies and Mennonite farms. When finished, the piece of infrastructure will reshape the city in a way that hasn’t happened since a little local firm called Research in Motion unveiled the BlackBerry.
As its engineers supervised the physical work of laying the line, the region also hired a five-person planning team from Toronto consultancy Urban Strategies to begin the process of reimagining the main street along which the LRT will operate.
The goal, says Habon Ali, a 29-year-old associate with the firm and part of the five-person team, was to create a community-building strategy for Waterloo to capitalize on the transit corridor by leveraging the giant investment to attract new retail, high-density development and other amenities. Ali, who graduated from the University of Toronto’s planning school in 2012, was involved in the public engagement aspect of the project—organizing open houses, finding straightforward ways to communicate complex planning jargon and soliciting input. “It was a cool transit project to be involved with because it was about getting the public involved,” she says. Read more: How booming cities made urban planning Canada’s hottest job