Alex Aylett died of cancer on 23 July 2016. Through his academic and consulting work on municipal environmental policy, Alex Aylett has seen how cultural, political and professional barriers prevent productive cooperation between communities, planners and academics. Since 2005 Alex has been working with the International Centre for Sustainable Cities (ICSC), as well as a variety of university and municipal organizations, to help bridge these divides both in Canada and abroad. He is motivated by the belief that participatory community-based planning can help meet environmental objectives while also addressing the pressing development needs of a given community.
Alex’s work on climate change breaks conventional patterns of thinking about the issue. When it comes to global warming, people tend to think big or small: either in terms of sweeping national and international plans, or personal initiatives that focus on reducing their own individual footprint. But, he argues, a middle road, built on local inter- and intra-community cooperation has much to offer. Instead of creating ‘top down’ policy, effective collaboration between citizens and municipal governments can create plans better suited to their local contexts. In particular, at the local level it is possible to find synergies between environmental, social and economic goals. Through his work with municipal leaders and planners from around the world, he has seen how collaborative planning processes can also produce more ambitious, imaginative and appropriate sustainable development plans that spark social change that extends beyond the realm covered directly by regulation. Inspired by this approach to municipal planning and sustainable development, Alex’s research focuses on identifying the key elements needed to nurture productive collaborations at the local level.