With more than 30 years at B&A, Ron Wrigley is getting ready to retire and will say his last goodbye to our team and his clients by April 2018. Needless to say, his hard work, industry wisdom and charismatic approach to work and life will be greatly missed by those who have had the pleasure of working alongside him. Thank you, Ron, for your many years of dedication to the B&A family.
Ron Wrigley was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up with his family of four siblings in London, Ontario. The Wrigley family eventually moved to Buffalo, New York, where Ron completed high school and his first degree at the University of Buffalo. Throughout his time in Buffalo, Ron stayed in touch with his high school sweetheart, Joanne, and following the completion of his degree they married and lived briefly in London before buying a van and heading west and settling in Calgary, Alberta. It was there that Ron completed a Masters Degree in Planning at the University of Calgary and together with Joanne raised a family of three girls: Angela, Allison (and now granddaughter Nya Belle) and Dana, who all live in Calgary today. Ron looks forward to spending a lot more time with Willi van der Woude, his girlfriend of the past eight years, playing the piano, visiting world cities, taking motorcycle trips to undiscovered remote areas, and catching up on his reading list.
Q: What university/universities did you go to, and what did you graduate with?
A: I attended State University of New York at Buffalo (1976) and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Design, and eventually went back to school at the University of Calgary (1984) and graduated with a Master of Environmental Design in City and Regional Planning. My experiences at Buffalo were incredible and opened my eyes to so much diversity.
Q: How long have you been a planner and where did you begin your career?
A: I have been working as a planner for 35 years. I started out at the former Calgary Regional Planning Commission and worked on the City of Calgary Downtown Plan before joining Ramsay’s three-person firm at RW Urban Consultants where I met Greg Brown.
Q: Why did you become a planner?
A: I first dabbled in art school and then pre-architecture design. Inspiring lecturers in Buffalo first introduced me to urban planning and systems theory and, like many children of the 60’s, I was very motivated to build a better society and environment – it didn’t seem like it would be that hard.
Q: If you didn’t become a planner, what career path do you think you would have taken?
A: I’d like to say I would have become a musician but I didn’t have the resources to do a music degree at a young age. I left home early as a bit of a restless rambling soul and was lucky to eventually find my way back into a general BA program in Buffalo. Almost anything else that provided reasonable pay and involved working with people to find solutions to social and political issues might have worked for me.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about your career?
A: The wide variety of projects, clients, challenges and on-the-job learning opportunities. I have always been a “special projects” guy and I have been lucky enough to make that work at B&A with the diversity of work that we get.
Q: What is one of your most memorable projects at B&A?
A: I’ll pick an early one and a recent one: the Three Sisters Resorts project in Canmore and the Parsons Creek Aggregates project in Fort McMurray. Both of these took a long time to complete and went through many different phases. It was great to learn the natural resource world, ways to work with First Nation communities, and to coordinate work for projects that involve Municipal, Provincial and Federal government approval and appeal processes.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about working at B&A?
A: As a small firm B&A has allowed me to both choose and take charge of projects, clients and well-crafted products while still having fun with them. I take a lot of pride in my accomplishments because of this.
Q: What is one of your favourite memories at B&A?
A: Friday nights after work at the Dog and Duck pub. We had a big crew of great folks who would show up, stay late, drink lots, and I don’t think anybody got hurt.
Q: What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out your career as a planner?
A: Effective planning is largely about good relationships (who you know) and good listening skills. Network as much you can at an early stage and take detailed notes.
Q: How do you hope to spend your time while retired?
A: Firstly, spending more quality time with my loved ones. Secondly, spend more time at my music hobby and with my music friends (lifestyle similar to golf but different equipment and generally later at night). Thirdly, visit some old friends who are scattered all over Canada and the US, longer adventures on the motorcycle and visiting new places still to be determined.
Q: Any parting words of wisdom?
A: “The older you get the better you get, unless you’re a banana.” Also, the further along you get into your career, the more you realize your sense of humour can be dangerous. Seriously though, as you get older three things happen: first your memory goes, and then, I can’t remember the other two.
Are you sure you want to do this?