Derek Coleman

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Derek Coleman (PHD ’74) is a pioneer in environmental policy in Ontario Planning, and has completed more than 1,000 projects in Ontario and six other provinces over five decades.

In 1972 Derek founded Ecologistics Limited, one of the first environmental consulting firms in the province dedicated to environmental planning.

Part of one of the first cohorts of PhD graduates from the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning, Derek was inspired by Professor Robert Dorney, who “took me under his wing under difficult circumstances and nurtured a long-term interest in the application of ecological studies in designing better cities and in making fully informed decisions.” 

Over the years, Derek has provided studies and support that has led to the protection of thousands of hectares of significant lands in Southern Ontario. He was a charter member of the Waterloo Region EEAC (the first Ecological and Environmental Advisory Committee in the province) and served on and chaired the Cambridge EAC for 10 years.

In 2018, the Grand River Conservation Authority recognized Derek with one of its Watershed Hero awards.

Today, he is President and Principal Consultant of Ages Consultants Limited where he focuses on methodologies for environmental impact assessment. This includes forestry management and protection and ecosystem approaches to natural heritage system identification.

Man planting a sapling
Coleman planting trees in Cambridge, 2005

Through his Ages Foundation, Derek has supported groups and organizations with a focus on education, environment and animal welfare. This includes the rare Charitable Research Reserve, the award-winning Cambridge stewardship initiative, and the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) Planning Student Trust Fund, which provides Ages Foundation Travel Awards to scholarship and bursary recipients, enabling worthy students the opportunity to attend Canada’s national planning conference.

This dedication to giving back relates back to his time at Waterloo. “I had the advantage at Waterloo of a major research grant that allowed for travel and culminated in a presentation at a conference in Quebec City. The exposure to, and interaction with other jurisdictions and professionals provides a much broader perspective on issues leading to better results.”

Taking up competitive track and field at the age of 70, Derek competes in masters-level athletics and has been a provincial and Canadian champion. The Terry Fox Foundation recognized him as one of its “heroes” for completing 38 of the 39 annual “Marathons of Hope,” raising approximately $20,000 for the Foundation. Derek and his wife are key benefactors to Waterloo’s architecture program. The Kathleen and Derek Coleman Fitness Centre at the Cambridge campus was subsequently named in their honour.

In early 2021, Derek made a substantial donation to the Escarpment Biosphere Trust to assist in purchasing the 2000-acre Heaven's Gate Property of the La Cloche (Killarney) Mountains.