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FES Celebrates its Student Planners

FES Celebrates its Student Planners

November 8 is World Planning Day, an international day celebrating planners and their significant contributions to their communities. In appreciation and recognition of the works of our planners in FES, we are herewith celebrating our planning students and their contributions in the fields of city/urban/regional planning, community housing, environmental planning and management, land use, transportation, among others.

Benjamin Bongolan

Benjamin is a second year MES – Planning Program student specializing in Urban and Regional Planning at FES. He is also a Coordinator of Newcomer Family Settlement Services at The 519, an LGBTQ2S organization in Toronto. His research focuses on Filipino Diasporas and Social Development Planning. In his first year Ben joined the Philippine Studies Group at the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), and was a panelist at the Race, Equity, and Planning Conference at Ryerson University.

During the summer Ben began an internship with Jay Pitter, an international place-maker and the Bousfield Distinguished Visitor in Planning. He worked with Jay and her team to support the development and implementation of a comprehensive Social Plan for a developer where he was able to draw on his knowledge of both urban planning and social services. Also, Ben is Jay’s Teaching Assistant for an inclusive placemaking and planning course she developed at the University of Detroit Mercy, School of Architecture and is a Teaching Assistant at FES teaching an undergraduate course on “Urbanization in Developing Countries”. In December, Ben and a team of planning colleagues will be presenting on Equity and Planning in Canada at the Hindsight Conference in New York City, hosted by the American Planning Association.

“The opportunities have truly been endless at FES, and I owe much of my experiences to the professors and courses where I learned so much and made me think critically of the planning profession and planning as an academic discipline, especially Stefan Kipfer (Urban and Regional Planning), Luisa Sotomayor (Perspectives in Planning), Laura Taylor (Environmental Planning Workshop), and my advisor/supervisor Abidin Kusno (Global Cities)”

To know more about Benjamin Bongolan’s work: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjaminbongolan/


Jessica Conroy

Jessica is a second year Master in Environmental Studies (MES) student, specializing in Environmental Planning. She holds an honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies from York University with a minor in Business.

Over the summer, she completed an internship at the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) where she assisted with research and report-writing for various projects including a smart city solutions energy guide, a municipal climate adaptation plan, a downtown revitalization best practices study, and an innovative seniors’ social housing scan. Through this internship, she was able to build on her knowledge of smart cities, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies. Jessica also learnt about the ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) and their BARC (Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities) framework through her course of internship.

Currently, I is an intern at the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department at the Township of King, where she is assisting the environmental stewardship coordinator with environmental events and programs and conducting invasive species research to develop an invasive species management strategy. Up next she will be working with the Town’s climate change coordinator on climate change strategy development!

Recently, Jessica also joined the Social Exergy & Energy Lab at York University to pursue her research interests on the role of municipal planning in the transition to renewable energy for climate change mitigation. She is interested in the spatial, policy, and governance implications of a low-carbon energy transition.

Jamilla Mohamud

Jamilla is completing the Master in Environmental Studies (MES) – Planning Program at the Faulty of Environmental Studies, York University. Her research examines issues of urban planning at the intersection of race, gender and class with a particular focus on discourses of livability. Jamilla recently completed a three-month internship with the City of Toronto’s Planning Division where she had the opportunity to work in the Housing Policy section and engage with the more practical aspects of housing policy development.

At the City’s Planning Division, Jamilla was responsible for developing a post-secondary student consultation document for City Planning staff working on development applications in and around post-secondary institutions. She also worked on developing a presentation for presentation for the 2019 OPPI conference which featured policies to address housing affordability such as municipal shelter zoning, as of right permissions for secondary suites, laneways suites guidelines and dwelling room protection policies. She also helped facilitate group table discussions as part of the city-wide public consultations on a proposed Inclusionary Zoning policy.

During her experiential learning placement, with the support of the project manager, senior planners and assistant planners, she was able to engage in different aspects of housing policy development, learn more about the development application process and understand the significance of key housing indicators across the housing continuum. Overall, this experience provided her with an opportunity to make connections between concepts learnt through the classroom component of the MES-planning degree and transfer those to practical application in the field.

Alicia Rinaldi

Alicia is a second year student in the Master in Environmental Studies (MES) – Planning program. She completed an undergraduate degree in Architectural Studies, Human Geography, and Women and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. Her major research focuses on how to meaningfully activate the public realm in urban areas, with a particular emphasis on green space and its overall connectivity and accessibility within the built environment.

This past summer, Alicia completed a placement with the Community Development Unit at the City of Toronto. In collaboration with fellow placement students, her project over the course of the summer was to gain feedback on the 2012 Social Development Plan (SDP), a document that is intended to guide Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s revitalization of the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood. The SDP entails six key themes: green space, employment, community connections, community services, safety, and housing. She directly engaged with Lawrence Heights residents regarding these key themes in order to help develop an Impact Report and an Action Plan for Lawrence Heights. The exposure to social planning and community development processes allowed her to understand the importance of social planning, which acknowledges the social components that are often overlooked yet vital to continue supporting communities and their overall resiliency and social capital.

Alicia also had the opportunity to work as a Community Communications Coordinator for a developer this past summer. This experience enabled her to gain insight on urban development processes, how to engage with resident associations and city councillors, as well as how planning policies influence high-rise residential developments.