On Friday, April 21, 2023, groups of students pursuing their Master’s in Environmental Studies (MES) Planning competed in the annual MES @ York Planning Alumni Committee (MYPAC) Case Competition. Meeting for the first time in-person since the onset of the pandemic the event was hosted by Patrycja Jankowski (BFA '13, MES '17), MYPAC Chair, and Joanne Huy, alumni engagement and events officer and Professor Laura Taylor, Planning programs coordinator at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC).
The event, designed by MYPAC, connects students with alumni and professionals in the field of urban planning.
Organized in partnership between the MYPAC and EUC, this event was sponsored by MSH Plan, and was designed to connect MES Planning students with professionals in the field of urban planning.
The case study was presented by Jillian Albert and Leandra Correale Ferguson (MES ‘19) from Thinc Design and Diedre Richards from the Town of Caledon. Students were tasked to conceptualize a flagship park space in the proposed development of Macville in the Town of Caledon.
Using the Caledon Official Plan, as well as official parks and economic development plans for the Town of Caledon, the student groups proposed changes to the current development plan to include more usable park space in the context of a new GO train station and planned high-and low-density residential uses.
Joined by Anna Flood from the City of Toronto, after a tough deliberation, the judges awarded the first-place team – Rudia Nam, Natassia Pratt and Mani Singh, and Sandhya Suryanarayanan $350 each. The judges cited their knowledge of the Official Plan and other official planning elements as well as their exemplary incorporation of local community voices within their designs and decision-making processes. This, and the idea to create a design that was park first, land-use second gave them a narrow advantage to secure a win.
They took an organic approach to the park space. While incorporating similar design elements as group one within the park itself, they chose to focus on creating the park within the context of the natural features of the land and radiating the land-use designs and patterns around the park, rather than attempting to fit the park within already designated land uses.
The runner-ups did not leave empty-handed and were awarded $150 each. The team – Chaoying Li, Elijah Leotaud, Mujtaba Mir, and Steven Kakaletris focused on a flagship park and sports complex near the new GO station and an emphasis on equitable access for all users, which included a main arterial road and parking to allow car-dependent users to access the park space.
“Participating in the 2023 MYPAC Case Competition was a valuable experience as it allowed my team and I to be introduced to parks master planning, an area of planning that I previously had little knowledge about. The case allowed us to be creative and innovative in our park design and plan, drawing from several important policies and plans from the Town of Caledon. I had a great experience and really enjoyed the process of being introduced to something entirely new and relevant in planning” said Nam.
Jocelyn Cadieux (MES ‘20) and Patrycja Jankowski of MYPAC organized the annual event and noted that MYPAC is proud to have hosted the Case Competition in–person after hosting it online since its inception during the pandemic. The competition was designed for students to have the opportunity to work on a planning case and provided students the opportunity to showcase their work to their peers and alumni.
The 2023 MYPAC Case Competition proved to be an extremely useful tool for MES planning students in gaining experiential education that will support them in their studies as well as afterward in their careers.