Exclusive: Abrupt Changing of the Guard at Vancouver Planning Department

In a surprise move this week, Vancouver's city council abruptly relieved its high-profile Planning Director, Brent Toderian, of his duties, after six years on the job. Planetizen has spoken with the former director about what transpired.
February 2, 2012, 2pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Nearly six years ago, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan made the most high-profile hire of his administration by appointing Brent Toderian, then 36 years old, as the youngest city planning director in Canada. Building on the successes of previous regimes, under Toderian's watch the city has maintained and enhanced its reputation as a model for high-quality, innovative planning and development, and successfully hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Toderian's accomplishments include the Eco-Density initiative, the laneway housing program, and the Cambie Corridor vision. Although, reportedly, Toderian had clashed with local developers and architects, the city council's move to relieve him of his duties on Tuesday "without cause" was a surprise to many, including Toderian.

In comments to Planetizen on his dismissal, Toderian asserted that, "Principle and integrity is a critical dimension of the Planning directors role, and I leave with mine and my staff's intact. Planning work doesn't always make you popular, as sometimes doing the right thing isn't always the popular thing, but we work hard at relationships and listening, and ultimately it's our purpose to do the right things for the public interest, now and in the future."

Toderian expressed satisfaction with the legacy that he and his staff will be leaving behind, "We've transformed things, done things differently, more creatively, and better, but not at the expense of quality, listening or integrity."

Of his future plans, Toderian is considering several opportunities, and sees a broadening of his focus, "As I move forward, I'll be expanding my work in national and global contexts. Much of my efforts in Vancouver have been about working passionately to evolve and adapt a 2.0 of the "Vancouver Model" by learning from the best of global cities, integrating the best ideas and models in new and creative ways, and my next chapter will allow me to accelerate that passion."

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Published on Thursday, February 2, 2012 in Straight.com
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