U of L group to shape the future of lomond

The 150 residents of Lomond, Alta. will get to know a few University of Lethbridge students a bit better this fall. The group, including fourth-year multi-disciplinary Urban and Regional Studies students Madeleine Baldwin, Matt Hall and Brian Conger, is working for the County of Vulcan with the assistance of County intern Kevin Budzinski to prepare and present a Municipal Development Plan (MDP) to the Village of Lomond in late 2008.

In addition to achieving a grade and acquiring important work experience through the Faculty of Arts & Science Applied Study program, the plan will directly affect the future of the community, since a municipal development plan is a high-level statutory document under the Municipal Government Act.

"The students are very excited to have this opportunity to combine practical experience with their educational studies," says County Administrator Gary Buchanan. "Though the planning team is small, their enthusiasm is high and I know that they will do a good job for the Village of Lomond."

The MDP recognizes and anticipates the cumulative impact of changes on land uses, municipal services, the local economy, and the livability of the community with the aim of guiding future development in the Village. The MDP will include policies and action to accommodate change in a way that benefits the community.

The Village of Lomond, located in the eastern portion of Vulcan County, approximately 85 km north of Lethbridge is a small but thriving community of 150 people containing a mix of residential, commercial, industrial and recreational land uses. One objective of the planning team is to identify additional lands for future residential growth in the village.

This is the fourth project undertaken by the County of Vulcan with the assistance of students from the University of Lethbridge.

It is the job and career-related aspects of the project that attracted the students to the applied studies opportunity, according to Stacey Gaudette-Sharp, Faculty of Arts and Science Assistant Coordinator Applied Studies/Cooperative Education & Internship Programs.

"The University of Lethbridge recognizes that students need a strong academic background in their discipline, and that experiential learning opportunities outside the classroom are vital to personal development," says Gaudette-Sharp.

"Applied Studies courses are designed so that students may use part-time paid or volunteer work experience to explore topics within an academic context. This helps broaden their skill-sets and allows them to make connections between the working world and their class work. Employers, like the County of Vulcan Municipal Planning Office, benefit from the students' knowledge, enthusiasm and willingness to learn."

The broad proposal is to visit the village, conduct
research, and hold an open house/information meeting in early November, then, prepare a draft plan for the Village Council and community to review by the end of the month.

The large project does not intimidate the students, some of whom already have land use and planning experience.
Madeleine Baldwin gained her interest in urban and regional studies by taking an urban anthropology course and she now hopes to pursue a master's program in city planning, possibly overseas.

"I am interested in a broad range of topics that have been satisfied by a broad range of courses at the University," Baldwin says. "None, however, have provided me with practical working experience like I hope taking an Applied Studies course will.

"Learning the process behind how a municipal development plan is made will be an invaluable skill in my future career."