Professional planner, urban designer and development manager.
I grew up in rural Niagara-on-the-Lake, working in the vineyards and picking fruit during the summer (actually, I ate more than I picked). This experience confirmed how useless a farmer I was but the incredible setting of the ‘First Capital’ also piqued my interest in history, heritage, a good vista and ultimately ‘urban planning’.
I had the privilege of being mentored by and working alongside some of the best planners and urban designers in the country. As a development manager, I also worked with one of the largest real estate and land development companies in Ontario.
The range of these life experiences allowed me to write, in my opinion, the most complete novel ever about Niagara-on-the-Lake. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you think and what I missed.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Although everyone has a planning opinion (there’s a joke about this in the novel), urban planning can be a pretty boring subject. With the exception of an accounting summary, nothing will put you to sleep faster than skimming through a technical planning report. Ironically, planning benefits from visioning, creativity and innovation, however, the political and administrative structures in which planners often operate stifles the very traits we need them to exhibit. I wanted to write a novel that would help educate people about planning and urban design but allow them to experience it in a fun way. Nobody, including myself, likes reading planning reports – but people do love a good murder. Canada 150 provided the perfect moment in time to write this ‘murder history’.
2. What do you hope readers will get from reading your book?
The empowerment to engage constructively in discussions about municipal planning and politics. If we don’t educate ourselves and hold politicians and administrators accountable for their priorities, choices and decisions, we will only get what we deserve. If you’re cynical of developers, politicians, planners, engineers, lawyers, realtors, town officials and others in the housing and land development industry, this might be the book for you. Apart from the overt crime (i.e. the murder), nothing else in this novel is far-fetched. What you will read is what happens every day in municipalities all across the country.
3. Why should someone buy your book?
It’s an unconventional murder mystery, rather a ‘murder history’. Its appeal lies in the fact that the journey taken in solving the crime(s) is seen through the eyes of a history major and an urban planner. You will learn nothing about psychology or forensics and you may not even learn anything new about the War of 1812 but I guarantee you will discover something new about ‘planning’. I paid tens of thousands of dollars for my planning and urban design credentials and immersed myself in twenty years of diverse practical experience, but for only $3.99 on Kindle, a reader will be able to stand toe-to-toe with any developer, professional planner, politician or town official and speak confidently about the principles of good planning, design and ethics.
4. Tell me something not in the synopsis.
Pay attention to the automobile. It develops into a key character in the novel, which is only fitting because I could argue that the ubiquity of the automobile has overtaken ‘colonial charm’ as the defining character of Niagara-on-the-Lake.