MES-York Planning Alumni Committee hosts second annual social

The MES-York Planning Alumni Committee (MYPAC) hosted their second annual York University Planning Alumni Social on June 28. Alumni, students, and faculty members from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) joined with other members of the planning community to fill the top floor of Olympic Spirit on Dundas Square.

“These networking events are important to the Faculty in so many ways,” said FES Dean Joni Seager. “We are very proud of the work MYPAC is doing to develop the FES planning community.”

MYPAC committee members (top, from left) Jay Bevan, Lily Piccone, Danielle
Anisef, Sabrina Colletti (MES ’02), Eric Berard, Hon Lu (MES ’02), (bottom)
Oren Tamir (MES ’06), Ruth Rendon (MES ’03), Caroline McKee and Praveen
Kulkarni (MES ’04). Members not shown: Salina Abji, Jane Yiqun Kuang (MES ’04),
Ken Hare, Professor Gerda Wekerle.)

Inspired by a career panel that featured three generations of FES planning alumni who offered students advice about a planning career, MYPAC was created in 2004 to help build connections between FES planning students and alumni. The planning stream is a significant part of FES – about a third of master of environmental studies (MES) students choose to follow the stream, which requires them to fulfill specific planning-related course and research criteria. Successful completion of the program leads to professional certification through the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) and recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP).

MYPAC Chair Oren Tamir (MES ’06), who is now working as assistant planner for the city of Toronto, played a key role in launching the organization. Tamir explained, “Our many colleagues from the MES program make significant professional contributions to the planning community. We envision the Planning Alumni Social as a venue for planners connected to FES to get together, and also as an enjoyable and stimulating networking opportunity for planners all across the GTA.”

With those aims in mind, this year’s social was a roaring success. About half of the 150 people who attended were directly linked to FES, with the other half coming from a wide spectrum of the planning community. Among the many honoured guests were Mississauga planning and building commissioner Ed Sajecki, Toronto chief planner Ted Tyndorf, Toronto’s former commissioner of planning and development Paul Bedford, now of Paul Bedford and Associates, and Bob Millward of R.E. Millward Associates Ltd.

Left: MES student Danielle Anisef (right) explains the model of Dundas Square to alumna Christy Doyle (MES ’01) and Jason Scott, senior environmental planner for the Regional Municipality of Halton

MYPAC deliberately holds its socials at places with connections to planning issues. This year’s venue was chosen for its location overlooking Dundas Square, a newly-revitalized and much discussed area of Toronto. To provoke further conversation about the location the social also included an interactive model called “Dundas Square: Past, Present, Future,” which displayed historical photos of the square and encouraged attendees to use Lego, straws and other materials to build their ideal version of it.

For alumna Christy Doyle (MES ’01), who is currently senior advisor for the North Pickering land exchange team of the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing, the display represented the reasons the MES planning program is so successful. “FES is such a diverse and creative place to study planning,” she said. “While there were many planners to exchange ideas with, there were also people with backgrounds in dance, health, art and technology. And we all shared common ground and were inspired by each other’s perspectives.”

In addition to support from FES, York’s Alumni Office, the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and the planning publication Novæ Res Urbis, the Planning Alumni Social benefits from the generosity of key industry organizations, including this year’s gold sponsors Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, Malone Give Parsons Ltd., McCarthy Tétrault LLP, City of Toronto Economic Development Corporation, and Urban Strategies Inc. Alumni who are interested in becoming members of MYPAC can contact FES Alumni Relations at