Growing up surrounded by family members dedicated to helping others, Metrolinx’s Meaghan Mendonca has made a point of building her career on the same principle.
Sustainability is a key focus for her, and she’s starting to get noticed for her work – outside of Metrolinx.
The University of Waterloo urban planning graduate has been named one of Corporate Knights Magazine’s Top 30 under 30 in Sustainability for 2018. She’s also been listed as one of the Top 25 emerging public transit leaders by the American Public Transit Association, class of 2019.
“I have always been conscious of how my decisions impact our environment,” Mendonca said. “I care a lot about the legacy I’m helping to build and how we’re thinking about our collective future.”
As a senior advisor for Metrolinx’s Benefits Management & Sponsor Office, Mendonca is working on North America’s largest infrastructure project, GO Expansion. Such a colossal project demands everything be considered during the planning phase. This is where sustainability comes in.
“You can use the word sustainability but it’s really about resiliency,” Mendonca said. “Sustainability is not only about ‘being green’. It’s also about how we plan for our changing planet.
“If we can anticipate things like flooding and extreme temperatures, we can mitigate risks to train service and the customer experience,” she added. “That’s built-in efficiency and that has financial and operational benefits.”
According to Mendonca, there are many important factors that contribute to a project’s success, including engagement from stakeholders, remaining competitive in the market by offering a quality service and most importantly, well-planned land development.
“We need to encourage land development around our stations and continue to improve station access, by connecting local transit, trails, bike paths, and sidewalks,” Mendonca said. “All these things make it easier to use our system. Transit and land development are inherently interconnected.”
When asked what excites her most about her work, Mendonca says it’s seeing projects come to life and having a lasting impact on the local community.
“The work we’re doing has a broader benefit to people’s lives by enabling active living and a cleaner, more connected world. I love taking plans and policies and making them real.”
There may never be a bigger project than GO Expansion, but Mendonca intends “to continue to build knowledge of the industry and effect positive change”.
With her recent accolades, she’s on the right track.