Planning

My Spatial Career

My Geography Degree was the best thing that ever happened to me on all scales of my life (no pun intended…well maybe a little). I have worked (and yes I mean was paid) in the realms of Economic Development & Tourism, Heritage Planning, Development Compliance, Urban Planning, Geographic Information Systems & Asset Management – IT….yes I said ‘IT’ and now Engineering….what!

Yes my spatial career has been just that – all over the place overlapping multiple disciplines! There is so much I have done and so much I can do! Geographers can understand processes, data, mapping, SPACE! And with that comes many many many many disciplines! I have held many titles throughout my life (Technology Analyst, Urban Planner, Tourist Ambassador, Technician) although they may not all sound geographical they all have been because of Geography! I have been blessed with meeting people all over the world! issued permits for new land uses and buildings! Built spatial databases! Created and manipulated data to create awesome Maps!

On this Day of Geography I am an Infrastructure and Environmental Technologist with Municipal Works at the City of Niagara Falls. I work primarily with Infrastructure and Asset Management. I map out our municipal infrastructure – sanitary, storm, water, roads etc and attach attribute information to these assets! I get to take care of the infrastructure that supports our daily lives! Nothing beats the knowledge of the space around you! Thanks for reading!

A Little Insight Into the Life of an Urban Planner

Submitted via email from Denise – Urban Planner

At the young age of 17 I knew that my dad was a planner, what exactly that meant I was not too sure. When it came time to apply for post-secondary, I had not put too much thought into what programs I would apply for; I just knew I wanted to go to university. Sports and hanging out with my friends was top of mind during my high school years, not what I wanted to be so many years down the road. (more…)

Niagara Region: Student Planner

My name is Alexander Morrison, and I am a Student Planner working within the Community and Long Range Planning Department at the Niagara Region.

To provide a brief background about myself, I am fourth year student attending the University of Waterloo. I am enrolled in the Faculty of Environment Co-op Planning program, minoring in Geography and Environmental Management. I have taken several university courses that have incorporated the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) programs into various assignments and projects. To date, I have completed two co-op work terms and am currently involved in my third work term with the Niagara Region.

For my first two co-op terms, I worked as a Cartographic Technologist Assistant at the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO). My tasks at the MTO primarily involved researching and updating geographic coordinates on a variety of datasets for use on the Ontario Road Map and creating Photogrammetric Contract Maps for contractor bidding purposes. The tasks often required in-depth use of computer programs such as ArcGIS, AutoCAD and Google Earth, as these programs included a variety of tools that were used to define data attribute queries and conduct a variety of spatial analyses.

While my tasks at the Niagara Region differ from the MTO, I have discovered that I still encounter GIS within my daily tasks. For example, for the large majority of the day, I have been collecting information from the Niagara Region Greenbelt Plan Review and comparing it to another Regions Greenbelt Review. From my research, I have come across a variety of maps that display the extent of the Greenbelt and the Municipalities and Regions within it. I was also able to find datasets that displayed features such as roads, rails, highways, trails, property boundaries, and water features just to name a few. The collected GIS datasets and attributes provide insight as to the challenges and opportunities that both Regions face in association to the Greenbelt.

The rest of my day has consisted of reviewing proposal applications for Niagara Regions Public Art Policy. My task is to ensure that the proposals are complete and consistent to the objectives envisioned by the Niagara Region. For each proposal, I must fill out an evaluation check list that is broken down into weighted categories. I must also provide comments for my reasoning of evaluation, as well as on areas that I believe are reflective of Niagara Regions policy objective, or any components of the proposal that are unclear. I must also consider how the proposal methodology expects to achieve successful implementation of innovative, collaborative and creative public engagement strategies.

A Day in the Life of a…Planner

My day started typically enough, viagra with turning my computer on, try reviewing my email and voice mail.

Working in a small, rural municipality in Niagara Region, my focus is customer service. I try to start everyday with a to do list, and depending on the day it either gets put aside due to customer calls/walk-ins, or on the occasional good day, I actually get to check something off of the list, before it grows again 🙂

Typical activities:

1. Phone calls: As the only planner in the municipality, I get all kinds of phone calls. They usually include needing zoning information or reviewing building plans to ensure they are compliant with zoning

2. Mapping – I use Niagara Navigator (municipal version) daily as it helps me look up a property to see it from a Google Earth perspective. Zoning and Official Plan data are included as layers, which helps me answer questions faster than otherwise.

Today:

1. Regional Matched Funding: I have been directed by our CAO to identify projects that will qualify for Lakefront and/or Waterfront funding from the Region. This involves identifying potential partners (CAA, Niagara Region Health) and trying to match the project details to the funding requirements. Another challenge is getting the capital needs onto the 2015 Township budget

2. Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) teleconference: I am a volunteer member of the newly formed National Initiatives Advisory Committee. Our first telecon is this afternoon. I have to review the agenda and meeting materials in preparation for the meeting.

3. Township Zoning By-law: Our new Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw became officially in force last Wednesday. Dealing with the public has identified some typos, errors and omissions etc that need to be resolved. I have started to track these issues, in order to resolve them later this year, or early in 2015.

4. Customer Service: On-going phone calls, walk-ins and other inquiries.

5. Committee of Adjustment Applications for December 2014 hearing: We have received 2 applications that need to be processed. This involves ensuring that both are deemed “Complete” per the Planning Act, that both have Notice of Hearings drafted, and that both are circulated to the appropriate agencies (checklist used to confirm this).

Day Of Geography: Notes from COGS

Congratulations on the inaugural Day of Geography!

view of COGS from a phantom quadcopter in July 2013

view of COGS from a phantom quadcopter in July 2013

There are five programs taught at the Centre of Geographic Sciences within NSCC in Lawrencetown, NS serving direct-entry and post-graduate students. These are:

  • Survey Technician measuring the physical world around us to determine the shape and position of objects or features
  • Geomatics Engineering Technology delivering practical measurement skills and techniques, as well as the theory behind them
  • Geographic Sciences using geomatics tools and technology for Community & Environmental Planning, Remote Sensing, Cartography, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Advanced Marine Geomatics using geomatics to effectively explore, manage, and monitor the marine and coastal environments
  • Advanced Geographic Sciences complementing a science degree with geomatics technologies

Graduates have made positive contributions around the world (here’s a voluntary map) and find meaningful careers across the industry spectrum.

The school (in various names; the present had considerable input from Roger Tomlinson) is dedicated to geographic programs and features the Walter K. Morrison Map Collection. We have been teaching programs pertaining to geography since the end of WWII.

For a colourful look at the last 25 years of COGS, check out this article.