"You can sit back patiently and hope others lead the cause, or stand up and make an effort to make sure things get done." Simon O'Byrne

Simon O’Byrne

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Expert

Simon O’Byrne is an award winning urban designer/planner and is Senior Vice President of Stantec’s 2,000 person Community Development Business Line. As a planning expert, he is frequently quoted in the media and is a sought after global public speaker. Simon has led multi-disciplinary design teams in the planning and successful delivery of large, complex and politically charged projects.

O’Byrne’s experience ranges from intensive urban revitalization redevelopments, to master planned communities, to transit-oriented developments and more. Projects include the Edmonton Downtown Arena and Entertainment District, creating resiliency in Hull, UK, redevelopment of the Alberta Legislature Grounds, the Saskatoon City Centre Plan, Lower Athabasca Regional Plan, Alberta Capital Region Land Use Plans, the Hunts Point Plan, Bronx, New York and more.

As a recognized urban design and planning expert, Simon O’Byrne is frequently quoted in the media in both Canada and the US and is a sought after speaker on both sides of the border to professional, community and leadership groups. He is an experienced speaker who delivers keynotes at major provincial, national and international conferences. Simon is also has a TEDx talk on how to create vibrant communities.

In 2015, Simon O’Byrne was selected to become the Allard Chair in Business for MacEwan University. The Edmonton Journal named Simon as one of the city’s Power 30. Alberta Venture magazine named Simon as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Alberta. In 2009, Avenue magazine named Simon as one of the Top 40 Under 40. Simon O’Byrne is a community leader who currently volunteers with the following: Downtown Vibrancy Task Force (Past Chair), Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (Honorary Chair), City of Edmonton’s Winter City Advisory Committee (Co-Chair) and Winter City Urban Design (Chair), Canadian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility and the University of Alberta Planning Program Advisory Committee.

Simon O’Byrne volunteers and leads many different civic, economic, social justice, charity, and professional boards and committees such as; the Habitat for Humanity National Leadership Council, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce (2014 Chair), Edmonton Renewable Energy Task Force, Greater Edmonton Regional Chambers of Commerce (2012 Chair), Community Sustainability Task Force, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, Hope Mission, Urban Development Institute & the Alberta Professional Planning Association.

Simon has a Master of City Planning Degree from the University of Manitoba. He has also completed a Master of Science in Environmental Planning scholarly exchange at the Pratt Institute in New York City. Simon’s first degree was a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta.

Topic Presentations

The world is rapidly urbanizing and doing so both unevenly and unsustainably. Farmers and villagers are moving to cities in search of better opportunities and hope. Throughout North America and Europe, major cities are struggling to balance development pressures, inequity, infrastructure strains, massive immigration and local politics, all whilst trying to reduce their ecological footprint. This session will look at the trends happening around the world in terms of urbanization and what governments, businesses and non-government organizations are doing to meet these challenges. Learn about how cities have begun to transform themselves to better adapt to rapid urban growth caused by migration, climate change, and economic conditions. This session will teach you some tools that urban designers use to approach these complex issues.


The demographic shift rapidly taking place in major cities has a major impact on the design of the city core. The changing makeup of the people that live and work in the center of the city means we need to make careful note of their lifestyle and workstyle needs. With the transformation taking place in many major cities across Canada, we have a unique opportunity to ensure our downtown and community designs reflect the needs for future generations.

Urban renewal, why it's critical to city success and just how to achieve it. According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities in 2008, for the first time in human history, more people live in cities and towns than in the countryside. This demographic shift has been worldwide, most prominently in Asia and Africa, but also in North America.

While this provides great opportunities for our communities, it also presents very real challenges. Specifically, how do we build strong communities as cities grow rapidly? How do we nurture the original neighborhoods into thriving centers of commerce, art, education and fulfillment? Simon O'Byrne will explore the opportunities and success that have helped transform North American cities.

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