The City Planner from Ontario
Author: Leon Ling | Editor: Doug Pattison | Photo: Armon Arani | Guest Speaker: Doug Koch
“What were your grades?”
Doug presented his transcripts to the head of the Planning School at UBC and inquired about employment opportunities. Based on his excellent academic performance, he was given some contacts to secure a job in BC (which a friend had told him it was impossible to do as he was coming from Ontario).
Doug Koch was born and raised in Ontario. With a strong interest in Geography in high school, Doug enrolled at Waterloo University, determined to be an Urban Planner in his career.
Doug has never lacked courage in his career journey.
In the third year of his studies, Doug took a gap year to secure a summer job and explore Montreal (against his peers’ advice, who urged him to stay in school and avoid any changes). However, when he returned to continue his studies, Doug completed an honours Bachelor’s degree to recognize his excellent academic performance.
Doug decided to explore western Canada before taking a full-time job in Ontario but fell in love with BC. With the head of the UBC Planning School’s assistance, he finally settled in the city of Victoria and held government positions at different levels.
“City planning is all about the future of the city. … There are many strategic decisions to be made by the government, to regulate when changes occur,” said Doug.
Working for the City of Victoria, with architects and designers from diverse cultural backgrounds, Doug was involved in the city planning for the changes happening in the next five to twenty years, including land use, community changes, and building heights density.
In Doug’s career, he and his team spared effort on local leaders and the government delegations to realize their solutions. Though some well-designed plans were occasionally turned down because of objections, Doug still enjoyed working with creative and visionary city planners, who fascinated him with their unique visions of the city’s future.
Doug worked in Victoria for more than 30 years and retired 13 years ago. He keeps active by consulting and volunteering in his areas of expertise and spends some time gardening and kayaking.
“I think the key part is that you have to be willing to accept the loss of some of your pride. If you want to try new things, you have to be prepared to make mistakes, which is OK because you learn along the way,” said Doug.