School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Carolyn DeLoyde

PhD candidate in Geography

Carolyn DeLoyde

Responding to Climate Change Scenarios

by Natalia Mukhina

July, 2017

Carolyn DeLoyde had no doubt about which university to apply to when pursuing her PhD. “Queen’s offers an exceptional graduate program in geography and the planning field, with a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary approach to planning. It is a unique one,” explains DeLoyde, an accomplished professional with more than 20 years of experience in planning and area development. She is striving for a long-term career in academia, and a PhD from Queen’s, according to Carolyn, would be the best qualification for her academic path.

Carolyn’s dissertation will explore quantifying ecosystem services to enhance the use of Natural Heritage Systems (NHS) in responding to climate change. Under the supervision of Dr. Warren Mabee, Carolyn will focus on the Region of Halton’s NHS as a case study for her research. The Halton region is part of the Golden Horseshoe, one of the fastest growing areas in all of Canada. Carolyn is well-versed in that area because she acted as the Senior Planner - Ecology and Senior Environmental Planner at the Region of Halton for two Official Plan reviews. It is no surprise then, when she says she feels at home there.

Kingston is another place where Carolyn feels at home. Originally from North Bay, she graduated from Queen’s in 1992 with her Master’s of Planning in the School of Urban and Regional Planning. “I dreamt of taking my love of geography, which is a love of the land, and applying it in a career where I would be able to deal with the land. Queen’s gave me the chance to combine physical geography, human geography, and urban planning as a part of the master’s program,” recalls Carolyn.

Carolyn DeLoyde

“Those courses provided me with such a solid professional background that I have been employed ever since my graduation. I rose very quickly from assistant planner to planner and senior planner, and so did all my classmates. This is all owing to our Queen’s Master’s in Planning.” Carolyn is also an instructor at Nipissing University and loves to see students become engaged in geography and planning and when they say they would like to become a planner.

“It is a wonderful profession that enables you to be outside and inside, with residents and politicians, working with scientists and practitioners. As a planner, you get to meet a variety of people. You always engage with the community and help make the community what it ends up being,” says Carolyn passionately.

Now, as a PhD candidate, Carolyn employs what she took from her career as a planner in the Region of Halton and brings that experience to the higher level of conceptualization. Thinking back on Halton, she speaks gratefully about all the professionals she used to work with there. “We were able to put in place some NHS through an Official Plan review, which is a planning process. We identified areas that are performing various ecological functions, and indicated the level of protection needed to keep those areas on the landscape in perpetuity,” says Carolyn. Most strikingly, such an ecosystem can provide the residents a variety of benefits to react to climate change.

“There is a range of various climate change scenarios that could be happening in terms of, for instance, variations in temperature and rainfall,” explains Carolyn, and adds that municipalities can respond to climate change just by keeping those green areas on the landscape.

Carolyn DeLoyde

Among other research goals, Carolyn intends to define how to manage ecosystem services to optimize the ability of NHS to respond to climate change scenarios. How to improve NHS management to ensure that critical ecosystem services can be delivered on the landscape? And how are ecosystems services currently managed or assessed during the development of NHS? “Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the planet today. And everyone needs to do their part. Both municipalities and residents can contribute to assisting in responding to climate change.”

Using the case study method as presented in the works by Robert Yin seems to be a perfect way to deal with planning applications and matters. Borrowing such a research strategy, Carolyn will undertake an analysis of the Halton region planning documents and other sources that apply to the Halton region. She will conduct interviews and surveys with NHS stakeholders. “Everything converged there. That what makes Halton such a great case study,” says Carolyn.

When asked about the practical implications of the research, Carolyn shares her ideas about making changes to some institutional mechanisms, such as the Ontario Planning Act, the Environmental Assessment Guidelines and others. She also hopes to write a manual for planners and practitioners that will bridge theory and practice in the field of planning.

Carolyn finds it challenging to make all her ideas manageable and valid in the depth required at the PhD level. Undeterred, she works hard and believes in her special “Queen’s luck”. “I graduated with my master’s during Queen’s 150th anniversary. I even won a lottery to see Prince Charles and Princess Diana come here to celebrate!” she recalls with a smile. “When I got back, I really subscribed to life-long learning. It happened during Queen’s 175th anniversary, and it is definitely a good sign for me.”

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