Michelle Taggart, M.Pl.
Michelle is a planner with a unique background in private sector development, land use planning, policy and planning research and international business. Michelle completed her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning at Queens School of Urban and Regional Planning in April 2007, and has since been working for Urban Strategies Inc., a planning and urban design firm in Toronto.
Ever since high school I have always been interested in the balance between development and preservation, growth and sustainability. Before beginning my masters in planning at Queens, I completed a Commerce degree at Dalhousie University, with a specialty in International Business. I took a year off between degrees to travel and see the world, spending time in India, Burma, South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and islands in the south pacific.
I joined SURP in 2005, and knew right away that I had found my calling. SURP offers an excellent balance of planning theory and practical application. My favourite course was the Land Use Project Course, in which we developed a land use concept to accompany the proposed LRT corridor along Montreal Road in Ottawa. Students have their own offices, just down the hall from the classrooms and professors, leading to a strong sense of community and collaboration. All the professors are enthusiastic and engaged in the program, offering a dynamic curriculum and constant support.
Between first and second year, I did an internship with the Canadian Urban Institute, undertaking a project to evaluate the opportunities and constraints of mid-rise developments along Toronto’s Avenues. When I completed the program, I started right away with Urban Strategies Inc., a full service planning and design firm in Toronto. Over the past year I have been working on the most interesting projects. I am consulting with the City of Toronto to create a plan for tall buildings in the downtown core where they should and should not be located, how they should interact with the pedestrian realm and with the built environment. I am working with Metrolinx, the public authority that manages transportation planning in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, to recommend land use configurations around major transit stations for the new regional transportation master plan. I am also working with the private sector, submitting rezoning applications for interesting and dynamic new mixed-use projects.
All things considered, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to become an urban planner. My experiences at Queen’s University opened many doors for me, and prepared me for entering the industry with a solid background of planning theory and practical applications