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Natalie Boodram

Practice Lead, Land Development, Urban & Community Planning, WSP

Natalie Boodram

Practice Lead, Land Development, Urban & Community Planning, WSP

Milestones in a career and life are a wonderful way of inspiring our emerging young leaders. Please share a proud or “magic moment” that shaped your journey?

Early in my career, I was given an opportunity to bring forward a Planning Opinion at a Committee of Adjustment Hearing at short notice. For this file, I had been responsible for preparing a Planning Opinion Letter for a Senior Practitioner. She told me that she was confident that I had developed the expertise to present and discuss a Planning Opinion in front of the public. I was successful at the Hearing. From that day forward, I was trusted with presenting Planning Opinions and representing landowners at municipal meetings, public meetings, and Ontario Land Tribunal Hearings. Beyond this, my passion for learning about Planning-Adjacent fields led me to thrive in project coordination. This skill was noticed by Senior Practitioners who encouraged me to pursue Project Leadership. This leadership role allowed me to be in a position to mentor staff in Land Use Planning and be a trusted project leader in Land Development. Now, I lead the Practice Area of Land Use Planning in Eastern Canada at WSP.

Who were your major influencers/mentors (up to 2) and what were the key lessons you gained from them?

Mentor #1: Diana Santo, Fellow Professional Planner, Diana taught that as Planners, confidence is built on having a solid Planning Opinion, Quality, and Professionalism. In general, if you are confident in your work, you will be confident as a professional.

Mentor #2: Chad B. John-Baptiste, Registered Professional Planner, Chad teaches that an effective Planner maintains awareness of the world that impacts Planning. He often brings attention to the impacts of politics, economy, market, and technical considerations on our work.

What do you think are the next big challenges we need to tackle as an industry and as a successful city-region? Are there specific things you think we should be doing to meet the challenges?

We need to work on re-focusing our built environment so that it will be natural for people to enjoy their surroundings and positively interact with people in their community. This effort will require collaborating with industries that effect the built environment beyond land development. In addition to urban design, examples include marketing companies, recreation and leisure, and community initiatives.

Tell us how you champion others in the industry.

I mentor a group of early to mid career planners on a daily basis through land development project work. I work with these individuals to build skills in critical analysis and share my knowledge of the land use planning process and the land development industry in Ontario. I am open to answering questions from these individuals to support their learning and growth as Professional Planners. When an individual demonstrates adequate skills and knowledge, I will find stretch opportunities for these individuals on current projects and recommend career advancement as appropriate. I always encourage others to network within the land development industry through volunteering and attending events through ULI and other organizations within the land industry.

What is your secret talent no one knows you have?

I have the ability to perform ballet.

What is the best word to describe you? And Why?

Reliable. When I am involved in an initiative, I care deeply about the people involved and the outcome.