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As a recent graduate of the Ryerson Urban and Regional Planning Degree program, I possess not only an understanding of project proposal and planning, stakeholder management, various land-use policy and planning Acts, environmental assessment, economics and planning, ecology, presentation design and encouraging participation – but a number of other skills from my previous and current professions. I am educated as a Programmer and Business Analyst and currently lecture post-secondary classes on Communication and Information Technology.
I have experience working with community groups, Neighbourhood and Business Associations with many of the field projects conducted at Ryerson – including my recent volunteer work with city councillors and community meetings set forth by the controversial Mirvish+Gehry towers in Downtown Toronto. This project not only required the demolition of heritage status buildings, doubling height limits and changes the over-all nature of the streetscape – it influenced through its size and design would impact the skyline and neighbourhoods well outside of normal planning scope. We enlisted city administrative staff, planners, architects and local groups to participate in a multi-roundtable format to direct future consultations and made use of new media to help encompass the large number of potential stakeholders. Other projects included: scoping requirements and limitations for development on mixed urban/rural watersheds; defining policy for Toronto’s 75 BIAs to improve economic connectivity and interaction with both community and governments; and, re-integrating and re-energising community housing developments within the inner-city.
My position as a Professor of Communications also aided in participating in these meetings. Becoming a professor at the same time as re-entering the academic field for my planning career not only helped myself in directing how to approach my own facilitators and fellow colleagues – but gave me the great opportunity to manage a large room of conflicting opinions and presenting ideas while listening and observing the knowledge process. Many of the lectures I delivered along with guest lecturers from political, community and communication fields focused on the requirement to adapt community outreach and consultation to match the changing methods in which people engage, congregate and share knowledge – or their objections – and how to successfully capture sentiment in modern situations without neglecting the established tenets of participation.
My work as a lead applications developer and in project management has guided my abilities to work with inter- and intra-departmental agencies, clients and end-users – collecting business and personal requirements and orchestrating a plan which matches abilities with available resources. My duties were also to relay information to management, provide status reports and translate technical concepts into business requirements and milestones – often engineering innovative approaches to solving complex problems. Finding balance between stakeholder expectations and requirements and guiding the development process within established technical specifications is always a requirement in software development – striving to obtain the best net-benefit for all parties.
Personally, I have also spent several years as a general contractor – a career that evolved from developing my own property within Toronto. While program design and project management aided in my abilities in large residential projects, self-training was required to develop the requisite skills in the technical aspects of home construction – including reading and understanding the requirements under the Building Code Act (1992) and a number of the City’s by-laws and regulations. It was at this time that I discovered my propensity and admiration of planning and policy and developed the skills that would assist in interpreting the technical aspects of any position.
My current situation has recently allowed me to seek employment in other areas of the country that previously piqued my interest and in a position that may require frequent travel – as well I am at a level personally where I would appreciate a change of location. I understand in today’s professional world that the job is never over when the workday is complete. Many of my previous positions required extra hours beyond the day to complete tasks, organise goals and truly reflect on the priorities and expectations and I personally believe that an excellent result requires such attentiveness and dedication – along with a passion for continued development and self-education – is a required objective.