Andrea McDonald

  • Email: Andrea
  • Tel:
  • Office:
  • Personal site:

My name is Andrea McDonald and I am currently an MRM (planning) candidate in REM at SFU in my second year, studying under the supervision of Dr. Zafar Adeel. I am originally from Caledon, Ontario and was drawn to the beautiful West Coast to study environmental sciences at UBC back in 2012. Upon completion of my undergraduate, I took a few months to travel around Southeast Asia and scuba dive in the absolutely incredible coral triangle. Once I returned home to Canada, I started working at the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest where I aided in the development of an outdoor education program for all age groups. Although this was an incredible job, I wanted to explore the world of academics more, which led me here to REM. My current research interests involve watershed planning, co-management, and sustainable rainwater management.

What inspired your current research topic?
The Fraser Basin Council has been working hard to identify parts of the region that could benefit from the use of their Salmon-Safe urban eco-certification. To help them with this process, I have been sorting through government policy at all four levels of government (Indigenous, Federal, Provincial, and Local) to identify alignment with the Salmon-Safe program. The Lower Fraser Watershed has experienced significant urbanization that has negatively impacted the health of the local waterways. Developments that aim to limit their impact on the natural environment by reducing their transport of nonpoint-source pollution in the form of rainwater runoff, can mitigate the harmful side effects of rapid urbanization on local watersheds.

Why do you think this topic is important?
Salmon are highly sensitive to rainwater runoff as it transports the pollution that has accumulated on impervious surfaces across the region directly into local waterways without filtration. Green rainwater infrastructure is a potential solution to this issue as it works to mimic natural systems that successfully reduce pollutants to a safe level for salmon. In this project, understanding the variation in rainwater management standards, regulations, bylaws, guidelines, etc. can help identify the potential gaps and/or weaknesses across the region. Taking a watershed approach to rainwater management policy is not common practice, as many municipalities enforce different standards of water quality and development requirements. Comparing these government development and management standards to the scientifically derived standards in the Salmon-Safe eco-certification is essential for protection salmon; I hope to provide policy recommendations at a local, and potentially regional scale, that could unify efforts to mitigate nonpoint-source pollution in our local watershed.

How will the VanCity Environmental Graduate Scholarship and Michael Geller (Urban Development) Graduate Scholarships help you achieve your research goals?
The VanCity Environmental Graduate Scholarship and Michael Geller (Urban Development) Graduate Scholarships have provided extremely valuable financial support for the continuation of my research. Working with the Fraser Basin Council (a non-profit organization) has been an incredible opportunity for me to develop my research skills and pursue an area of research I am very passionate about. Receiving these awards has granted me the opportunity to dedicate more time and focus into this important research. My hope is to be able to cover as much government policy in the region as time permits and having the financial support of these awards has gifted the security necessary to continue my research as a graduate student.