Interviewed by George Pantazis
After completing an Honours Degree in International Development Studies and a Masters of Sociology, Evelyn was looking for a program that would allow her to gain practical yet interdisciplinary skills to further her career as an international development professional. The MES Planning program proved to be just that. Evelyn describes FES’ approach to planning as “planning outside-the-box,” which for her meant taking on emerging, interdisciplinary issues such as environmental planning, social justice, and food planning. During her degree she completed a three-month field placement in Jamaica through York’s International Internship Program in partnership with the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI). Evelyn regards this as a most valuable career-building opportunity as it gave her hands-on international planning experience, as well as the opportunity to work on an active planning project managed by the CUI. Evelyn engaged with CUI’s partners Jamaica, and worked as a planner on developing a local sustainable development plan for the region of Manchester, which followed the United Nation’s framework of Local Agenda 21. Her field placement motivated Evelyn to write her Major Research Paper on Local Agenda 21, and the relevance of this relevantly dated planning framework to contemporary urban issues – especially as they relate to food security.
Evelyn currently works as a planner at the Ontario Municipal Board, where she coordinates over 100 different appeals primarily in the Region of Durham. They range from appeals related to zoning by-laws, local Official Plan Amendments, and Regional Official Plan Amendments. Some of the more complex files she is currently involved with include the Richmond Hill Official Plan with over 40 separate appellants, the Seaton development project in Pickering which is estimated to bring over 37,000 new residents to the area, and expropriation appeals related to the Highway 407 expansion. Evelyn enjoys being front-and-centre at this stage of the planning process, and the challenge of being involved with complex and often contentious issues. She views her role as important for being primarily a liaison between the OMB and external stakeholders, such as ratepayers groups, municipal lawyers, professional planners, and the general public.
Prior to her position at the OMB, Evelyn was a Project Officer with the International Partnerships branch of the Canadian Urban Institute. Evelyn was primarily responsible for coordinating CUI’s Canada-Ukraine Regional Governance and Development (RGD) Project, a seven-year regional planning project that received $7 million in funding from the Canadian International Development Agency. At the national level, the objective was to strengthen Ukraine’s policy framework related to regional planning and sustainable development. At the local level, efforts focussed on designing and implementing regional development plans that integrate strategic, environmental and social priorities.