Environmental justice and urban planning
When Mount Allison environmental studies and sociology student and Halifax, NS resident Kate DesRoches was deciding on their topic for summer research, they stayed close to home.
DesRoches is studying environmental justice and urban planning in Halifax, NS, through Mount Allison’s Independent Student Research Grant program. With the guidance of Dr. Corrine Cash, assistant professor, Department of Geography and Environment, DesRoches is looking at the connections between urban planning and climate justice, using the Halifax Regional Municipality as a case study.
“The last regional plan for HRM was done in 2014 and the municipality is doing a review now. I am looking at this and other planning documents, which are all publicly available, through a lens of climate change and climate justice,” says DesRoches. “I have been involved in groups for climate advocacy at Mount Allison for several years. This work brings my advocacy work together with my academics.”
DesRoches is also interviewing city staff and councillors, as well as community groups with a focus on climate change, such as the Ecology Action Centre. She says it’s important to hear a variety of perspectives as climate change is an issue that disproportionally impacts certain groups in society.
“The climate crisis is disproportionately impacting people in marginalized groups,” says DesRoches. “Globally, those who have contributed the least to climate change are often the people most greatly impacted. This climate injustice can be seen locally as well, where the people who bear the worst impacts of climate change within a given community are often individuals who are already marginalized. Part of my study is looking to see if and how this social justice side of the climate crisis is considered in local urban plans.”
While the research is far-reaching, with several community plans focusing on different areas, DesRoches says incorporating climate justice, and in particular the importance of local Indigenous leadership, are key parts of her research.
Outside their academics, DesRoches has been involved in several initiatives at Mount Allison and in the Sackville community including Divest MTA, the Student Union’s Sustainability Committee, and the Town of Sackville’s Climate Change Advisory Committee. She is also an editor of the Atlantic Journal of International Studies (ATLIS), published annually by students at Mount Allison, a photographer with the Argosy, Mount Allison's independent student newspaper, plays the French horn in the Mount Allison Symphonic Band and is the president of the MTA Bands Society.
Working with Cash, DesRoches will be continuing her research over the academic year as part of her honours thesis. They plan to continue their education in urban planning following their degree at Mount Allison.