Canadian Planners at a Crossroads

As several major Canadian cities seek to hire new chief urban planners, candidates are facing an emerging set of demographic and political challenges, while some question the role such officials should have in shaping the country's landscape.
July 9, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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John Lorinc and Siri Agrell look at the challenges facing candidates for high profile planning positions in major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Halifax, and Vancouver as some fear that amidst the turnover, "the position will be devalued, or submerged in bureaucracy."

The question of the role of chief urban planners is a vital one to address as Canadian cities look to improve livability and sustainability in both suburban and traditionally urban environments. According to Lorinc and Agrell the key question is whether, "fast-growing cities need – or indeed, want – visionary chief planners? Or do they actually require can-do administrators who have the contacts and political savvy to deliver change in modern metropolitan areas?"

Larry Beasley, Vancouver's former co-planning director, is optimistic that the next wave of Canadian planners will be up to the challenge: "The new generation, it's their time to take over," he said. "I think you're going to see some wonderful new initiatives across the country over the next few years."

Thanks to Brent Toderian

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Published on Friday, July 6, 2012 in The Globe and Mail
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