Blog Contributor: Ben House
Photo: Ben House, current Master of Sustainability student and summer intern at the Town of Lincoln
Over the past two months of our co-op placement with the Town of Lincoln, fellow co-worker Zach MacMillan and myself have been working on the preliminary stages of the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab Needs Assessment project focused on improving community-wide sustainability. While this project serves as the backbone and central focus of our co-op work term, Zach and I are lucky to be a part of several “side-projects” occurring throughout the office. Thus far, the projects have helped bring an enjoyable level of variety to the job and have given us a unique glimpse into the wide-range of disciplines and departments covered in municipal work.
I have personally been lucky enough to work with Lincoln’s Economic Development Officer, Paul Di Ianni, on a variety of projects currently underway. I was first introduced to Paul during winter term in our “SSAS 5PO3” Project Management Course where we collaboratively worked to map some of the Town’s key economic assets and define their contribution to community sustainability. In this regard, the SSAS 5PO3 class has really served as a helpful transition into the work term for Zach and myself. The class provided us with a tremendous amount of foundational knowledge pertaining to the Town’s operational climate and helped to introduce us to some of the analytical tools we would be using on the job. Furthermore, it helped us establish relationships with some of our future colleagues and mentors working in Lincoln which has made for an enjoyable entrance into the workplace.
With my recently established background knowledge of Lincoln’s economic climate, Paul has kindly taken me “under his wing” and has begun to include me in a variety of ongoing projects within his department. Most recently, I have been researching Community Energy Plans (CIP) which are essentially long-term plans aimed at improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging sustainable energy solutions on a community-wide scale. Specifically, I have been tasked with providing information regarding the policy development necessary to support such a plan, as well as potential financial tools and funding opportunities that will aid in its successful implementation. I recently presented this information to Paul and Gillian Harris, Manager of Environmental Services, and it is likely that continued discussions regarding the development of an energy plan will be taken to council.
In addition to expanding my knowledge of economics, as well as improving my oral and written communication skills, these projects have reminded me of the strong interconnections between all realms of sustainability. Initiatives such as community energy planning can have profound impacts that extend far beyond financial gains and can contribute to the protection of environmental services and natural assets, amongst many other community-wide benefits. These projects help bridge the gap between economic growth and environmental protection and it is truly refreshing to see how key environmental considerations continue to be integrated into ongoing discussions of future economic development here at Lincoln.
It is clearly an exciting time for the Town of Lincoln with an abundance of projects and long-term ambitions finally reaching stages of operationalization. It has been a privilege to lend my support to these projects and I am looking forward to seeing what the remaining months here at Lincoln will have in store.