- Tell us a bit about Wiser Projects and what brought you to join UDI
Wiser Projects is a collaborative team of urban planners, focusing on below market and attainable housing across the province. While we also engage in planning and policy projects that support our communities and our passions – for example, we are currently supporting the Village of Gold River with an age-friendly assessment that develops actions required for a sustained, healthy community – housing is the core of our business. We are currently working in over 20 municipalities with non-profits, Indigenous governments, and private sector partners on realizing their local housing needs through a high quality and considerate design process. As we work cross sector and often in a project management role, UDI is a great fit for us to connect, share our lessons learned, and keep our partners informed of opportunities and knowledge gleaned from others. Kaeley has been a member through other avenues for a variety of needs, and has realized the benefit professionally and personally of the strong, positive and proactive membership of UDI.
- What sets Wiser Projects apart from others in the Development Industry?
We are a small planning firm who does big and small projects – through excellent relationships with design team and financing groups that have been supporting us for years. Those relationships come alongside us with our projects to meet client and community needs where they are at – no matter the size of our client or project, they benefit from these relationships built on trust and transparency. We also support our clients whatever their needs may be; as planners, we are generalists, making us ideal project managers. We have learned that the extreme organization and coordination required for public sector projects is highly valued – and often lacking – in the private realm. In many cases, we have stepped into private projects, applied tools and processes we use in the non-profit housing market, and it has blown our private clients away!
- How do you define success for your projects, and what project are you most proud of?
Success for us is realized constantly throughout our projects. On a daily basis, we, our clients and partners enjoy and look forward to our project work. We deliver what we say we will deliver, when we committed to delivering it, at a quality that exceeds requirements. We seek client partners who grow alongside us, often hiring project planners internally to learn beside us, thereby increasing their internal capacity for their next project. We feel we have succeed if the next time a project comes around, that client is in stronger position to do it themselves – if we are still around in 20 years, we have not done our job!
We have a wide array of unique projects across the Province right now – from remote, in-community Indigenous health centre, to a 28-unit mixed use project in Victoria for men coming from federal incarceration with supportive life and economic skill development, to a 22-unit modular single-parent led household project in Cumberland in Vancouver Island Health Authority land, to an attainable stacked townhouse project in Saanich. All projects address acute housing needs in diverse ways, and we are grateful to be partners in supporting their success.
- Looking into the future, are there any positive changes you hope to see in the development industry as a result of the current crisis?
As we focus on attainable housing, we are seeing increasing political, policy, and investment attention to quality housing projects and plans that respect local needs and contexts. We are seeing more private sector investors and developers seek public/non-profit/Indigenous partners earlier in the development process, and with increased transparency and respect. In our opinion, the most successful projects involve a diversity of community members and voices, and therefore feel very positive and learning and applying lessons learned in the long term this crisis.