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Tools for Change: CityPlan Vancouver's Strategic Planning Process

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CityPlan was a three phase strategic planning process, directed by the author, for the City of Vancouver, Canada. Beginning in 1992, the first phase involved over 100,000 people in considering choices and consequences of a wide range of city directions. The result was CityPlan: a Council adopted Strategic Plan. The second phase continued stakeholder engagement in preparing and implementing a variety of city-wide policy plans based on CityPlan Directions. The third phase built on community support to prepare new zoning and servicing plans for increasing housing choice in established neighbourhoods. This case study focuses on intensification initiatives incorporated into Phase 1 (1992–1995) and concludes with an assessment of subsequent policy plans and intensification programs (1995–2006).

Twenty years after the start of CityPlan the passage of time and the author's experiences in similar cities provide a basis for evaluating the benefits, shortfalls, and transferability of Vancouver's engagement process. The study concludes that four features of planning processes – broad public engagement commencing with the initial steps of plan-making; including all city responsibilities to provide a coordinated response to sustainability; public involvement in choice making when limited land or funds require tradeoffs between city values; and allocating funds for early implementation – contribute to public support for change. The study also demonstrates that support for change wanes over time. New directions, expeditiously implemented through regulation or funding, are better able to withstand political and staff changes. Phased planning processes, which require further plan-making prior to implementation, experience approval decay among citizens and politicians.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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