Building forward instead of back: Developing and redeveloping Alberta’s communities

PhD student Lynne Njeri Mbajiorgu is preventing future natural disasters through planning and mitigation strategies.

Alberta has seen more than its fair share of devastating natural disasters in the last decade—the 2011 fires in the Town of Slave Lake, the 2013 Southern Alberta floods, and most recently, the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. In fact, the majority of the most costly disasters in Canada have occurred here in Alberta.

When it comes to planning for and minimizing risk from natural disasters, PhD student Lynne Njeri Mbajiorgu knows we need to think way, way ahead.

“My research focuses on the transformation of planning processes in response to floods, wildfires, and droughts,” explains Mbajiorgu, a professional land use planner by trade. “Specifically, I am looking at how we can adapt our plans and planning tools to better mitigate risks. We don’t want to build a community back to a state of risk. We want to build forward-thinking, safer, and healthier communities in advance of natural disasters.”

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Celebration of Planning Event 2016

On Nov 22nd, our program held its annual Celebration of Planning Event.  It was a tremendous success raising over $24,000 towards scholarships for the Planning program while at the same time bringing together more than 160 planners, developers, municipal and provincially elected officials, students, community group representatives and others for a night to celebrate our program.
The event included a Pecha Kutcha format where speakers raised their big idea(s) for planning – Mayor Don Iveson discussed the vision of Edmonton’s Blatchford Development, Paula Simons argued for improved regulations and funding to protect Edmonton’s limited stock of heritage buildings, Brad Ferguson pushed a two word brand – Edmonton, Canada – as a brand for the Edmonton Region, and Simon O’Byrne noted that Edmonton should be much more creative with lighting in our winter months and that we needed to make better use of our river valley.  All of the presentations were outstanding.
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Syrian refugee helping study refugee experiences for federal government

Aref Sayegh is helping those who share his experience as a Syrian refugee in Canada by helping the University of Alberta study them.

“I’m just happy to help the research,” Sayegh said, of his role joining a groundbreaking new study for the federal government of the settlement experience of refugees who have recently come to Alberta. “I think it will be a big deal for the Syrian families and also for the university.”

Sandeep Agrawal, an urban planning professor at the university, is about to study the settlement process of Syrian refugees by focusing on those who have settled in Edmonton and Lethbridge.

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Syrian student puts his refugee experience to work

Aref Sayegh and urban planning professor Sandeep Agrawal are working together on research aimed at improving the settlement process for Syrian refugees in Canada.

Scant days after arriving at the University of Alberta on a scholarship, Syrian refugee student Aref Sayegh was already giving back to the campus community.

Fluent in both Arabic and English, Sayegh, a graduate student in engineering, was quickly recruited for a new research project that is exploring how the Canadian government can improve the settlement process of Syrian refugees.

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If we build it, will they bike?

Downtown bike lanes a good start but still more needed in car-happy Edmonton, says UAlberta urban planner, Manish Shirgaokar.  With city council unanimously approving funding for a downtown bike grid, administrators are making a $7.5-million bet that dedicated bike lanes in car-friendly Edmonton will encourage commuters to ride rather than drive.

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MSc in Urban and Regional Planning Program Approved by the Province of Alberta

It is our utmost pleasure to let you know that our MSc in Urban and Regional Planning Program has now been approved by the Province of Alberta. The Program is scheduled to launch in the Fall of 2017.
Over the next few weeks (most likely in November/December), we will begin populating our website with information necessary for admissions such as deadlines, eligibility criteria, requirements etc.