World Town Planning Day: Meet Marina Smirnova

Q: What is your role with Quinte West?

A: I am an area planner at the City. As part of my role, I review applications to ensure that all development adheres to principles of good planning, meets the intent of planning policy documents and furthers the well-being of Quinte West’s residents. This ranges from building permits to severances to draft plans for large commercial developments. While some of my colleagues have more specialized roles, being relatively new to the City, I get to experience a little bit of everything that comes through the planning department.

Q: How long have you worked for the City?

A: I’ve worked for the City for just under two months. Before that, I was completing my Master’s Degree in Planning at Ryerson University.

Q: What do you like most about your job, and what is the most challenging part?

A: The best part of working for a mid-sized city is that, unlike most larger municipalities, I get to interact with the entire planning department daily and build relationships with my team and other City staff. The best part of my job is knowing I play a direct role in shaping the future of the City, and that I have a responsibility to its residents to do my best. As a planner, I have to balance many competing short- and long-term interests and ensure the well-being of the people for whom I’m planning. I also have to look at proposals from many different angles, including environmental impact, which is very important to me. This can be difficult, especially when working with limited resources and on set timelines. The fact that planning is complex makes my job both challenging and rewarding.

Q: How do you start a career/get a job like yours? (i.e. education, training, etc.)

A: Many planners have a Master’s degree from an accredited urban or regional planning program or a Bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree programs typically accept students with a wide range of backgrounds and no planning experience – my undergraduate degree was in political science with a minor in environmental studies from the University of British Columbia. Once they have begun their careers, many planners pursue their Registered Professional Planner (RPP) designation. To become an RPP, a practicing planner needs to log work experience, receive mentorship and take courses on ethics and professionalism.

However, what unites planners, and where people often begin their planning journey, is a love for the place they live and a desire to see it become better.

Q: What do you wish people knew about your job?

Interacting with people and helping them through the planning process makes up a significant portion of my job. I wish people understood our role at the City and the planning process a bit better, including the fact that planners have to understand, interpret and apply municipal and provincial legislation to every application. As planners, we want to help the public understand what we do and how they can participate in the process.

Q: What’s your favourite thing to do/see/eat in Quinte West?

A: I love the natural beauty of Quinte West, so I enjoy driving and cycling through the rolling hills and farm fields and along the Trent River. I also love exploring the farms and orchards and trying local produce – some of my favourites include berries from Brambleberry Farm, fresh veggies from Wooler Dale Farm and bouquets from Dahlia May Flower Farm. One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning is grab a coffee or an Apple Orchard Chai from the Grind and Vine, check out the Front Street Farmers’ Market and wander along the waterfront.

 

Last Updated: 8 months ago

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