2021: A Year in Review

As another year comes to a close, we’ve been reflecting on the things we’ve achieved together as a firm, and among friends and family.

If 2020 was a year of resilience, 2021 taught us a lot about trust.

Trust that our team could pull through another year of uncertainty; trust that our clients would continue to push forward on their community-building projects; trust that newly elected leadership would persevere; and most importantly, building on the trust between one another as we balanced work with our personal lives and showed up for loved ones and clients alike.

Our partnership at B&A believes strongly that trust is built through consistency, integrity, thoughtful leadership, and our ability to be vulnerable and adaptable during uncertain times. We’ve encountered a lot of new challenges and opportunities in 2021, and every time we rose to the occasion to deliver what our clients and projects required. Sometimes that meant pulling together multi-day virtual workshops with audiences across the province, and sometimes that meant rescheduling meetings when a client had to pick their sick child up from school. We showed up for our clients and community in big ways and in small ways, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. Our relationships are truly at the heart of what we do.

My team hears me say this often, we simply could not do what we do without each other. We continue to work remotely in our home offices, and we’ve worked hard to maintain connections with each other. Despite the challenges, 2021 presented us, our ability to trust ourselves and one another has helped us persevere.

In 2021, we:

Grew our Team and Expertise

  • Strengthened our urban design team. Led by award-winning Urban Designer, Geoff Dyer, our capacity to deliver transformative and innovative work throughout North America continues to expand.
  • Added a Toronto presence and added bilingual planning capability. Our team expanded east with the hire of Joanna Ilunga based in Toronto. Joanna adds planning capacity, French language communication, and translation expertise, as well as supports our client and project growth in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Collaborated with the University of Calgary and City of Calgary on their Foothills + McMahon Concept Plan Project. A two-week public, virtual charette, in-depth online engagement, and leadership from our urban design team, we proudly delivered a visionary concept for this important landmark in Calgary.
  • Continued to develop our energy portfolio. Our team grew our energy client roster as we continued to innovate and provide leading customized planning approaches and solutions to meet the unique needs of our energy client base.  In 2021, we witnessed the evolution and geographic expansion of our customized land use planning and development monitoring programs, the introduction of pipeline network assessments to support class location evaluations, and secured municipal planning approvals to support a major renewable energy project in the Calgary region.

Expanded Our Impact

  • Strengthened our presence in British Columbia. With several projects recently completed and underway in BC, including the Village of Nakusp OCP, Morguard’s Burquitlam Plaza, and Coquitlam Centre redevelopment projects, and TELUS projects in Surrey, Burnaby, and Vancouver, we continue to establish our presence throughout the province.
  • Building momentum in the United States. From our urban design work in New York and the southern states to the expansion of our energy planning portfolio, we continue to break ground with new clients and new markets in the U.S.
  • Continued to broaden our local portfolios outside of Edmonton and Calgary. While our offices are busy delivering City-based projects, we’ve also increased our regional reach with projects in Okotoks, Airdrie, Cochrane, Rocky View County, Parkland County, Wetaskiwin, Foothills County, Flagstaff County, Town of Whitecourt, Woodlands County, City of Fort Saskatchewan, Mountain View County, Sturgeon County, and others. Our work in these important, mid-sized urban centres and rural communities range from Strategic Planning to Municipal Development Plans,  Area Structure Plans, Neighbourhood Plans, land use, subdivision, and development approval processes, among others. Supporting both municipal and land development planning needs this work has provided municipalities with strong foundational planning and also contributed directly to the implementation of new neighbourhoods, commercial projects, business parks, transportation and logistics facilities, energy and aggregate operations all of which form part of the ever-transforming and evolving provincial and regional fabric.
  • Congratulated Kathy Oberg as a newly elected representative on the Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP). This opportunity allows Kathy to strengthen her reputation as a prominent planner in our city and share her perspectives with our community.

Focused on Culture

  • We honoured the first National Indigenous Peoples Day. We acknowledged this important statutory holiday with our team by sharing resources to encourage learning and reflections on truth and reconciliation and by supporting a local non-profit organization for Indigenous youth in Calgary. Our team continues to focus on and learn about the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action, Indigenous Relations practices, and celebrations of culture as part of our commitments to reconciliation.
  • Sponsored, presented at, and attended industry conferences. While there are many highlights to mention, one includes a presentation made by our Communications and Engagement team at the annual CPAA conference regarding adaptability and a new era of public engagement. We hope to see many more familiar faces at conferences and learning sessions throughout 2022.

Over the last year we’ve discovered that despite working remotely, when your team is built on trust, the tough stuff gets easier. Communication, problem-solving, our ability to adapt and build virtual connections – these things are only possible with a team you can rely on. There are many important takeaways from 2021:  

  • Adaptability and flexibility are some of our greatest assets. We continue to successfully meet (and exceed!) client and project requirements, delivering positive outcomes and meaningful communication with stakeholders,  all while monitoring the public health situation. For us that has largely meant going online to host meetings and engagement sessions and creating safe environments when in-person events have been possible. We’ve learned that while our communications approaches must be flexible, they also have to meet people where they are in order to achieve successful engagement results. 
  • Maintaining connection is imperative. While many of us are working from home and managing other household responsibilities simultaneously, we know it is hard. We’ve worked hard to encourage team check-ins and maintain an open door to discuss issues and opportunities. We’ve also created virtual events for the team to come together and connect.
  • Business development doesn’t stop, it just looks different. While we miss the in-person coffee chats with clients, we’re finding new ways to connect. We continue to be so grateful for the adaptability and openness of our clients and peers.
  • Team is everything. The heart, passion, and dependability that our team brings to the table every day amazes me.

Looking ahead to 2022 we are optimistic and excited. We continue to build our roster of exciting projects with clients and friends that inspire us. We’re also growing our team by adding new specialties and bolstering the services we offer today. With this growth and change, we’re also examining our brand and finding ways for it to evolve with us.

We look forward to connecting with all our wonderful clients and peers in the new year. We wish you all a happy and wonderful holiday season.

Kathy and the B&A Partners, Brian, Geoff, Ken, Nathan, Pam, and Vern.