Editor’s note: This is the third of 40 profiles for the Kelowna Top Forty Under 40 program presented by BDO Accountans and Consultants, the Junior Chamber of Commerce International (Okanagan branch), Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and The Daily Courier.
Every week in this space, we’ll feature someone under the age of 40 who is making an impact through business, community involvement and innovation.
James Kay is happy to be a civil engineering hillside development innovator.
“Absolutely, the firm I’m with (WSP Focus) is a pioneer in doing it different and better,” said Kay, 35.
“It’s all about doing as much as possible design upfront using site evaluation and auto CAD (computer- assisted design). That way you can determine where homes and services can go to have as little impact on the environment as possible.”
Such an approach means more trees are saved on construction sites and the use of huge retaining walls is limited.
“It’s also about esthetic appeal,” said Kay, a civil engineer.
“The more trees you can keep, the nicer a street and subdivision looks. We also like to use existing rock bluffs as natural retaining walls rather than building retaining walls.”
Such planning and construction is important in Kelowna where there are alot of hillside development as builders put homes where owners can have Okanagan Lake and Valley views.
One of the latest subdivisions WSP Focus has helped designed with all of this in mind is the Rocky Point neighbourhood at Wilden, the master planned community in the Glenmore Highlands.
Kay and WSP are also working with the City of Kelowna on progressive storm-water management.
Rainwater that gathers gunk and oil from parking lots and rooftops at commercial buildings is collected and treated to trap sediment and filter oil before it is returned to the ground clean, so it doesn’t harm creeks and soil.
WSP Focus also worked on the utility replacement and revitalization of Bernard Avenue over the past three years.
“It was the best choreographed project I’ve ever worked on,” said Kay.
“It had the support of the merchants and the public and everyone was kept informed of the progress. Plus, it looks great now that it’s all done.”
Kay likes to pass along his expertise teaching a civil engineering course a week at each Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.
He’s also an active volunteer, serving on the boards of the Okanagan branch of the Urban Development Institute, the Central Okanagan branch of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association and Consulting Engineers of B.C.