Report of “Future and Past: Planners and Planning in the City of Vancouver”: SFU Harbour Centre, Oct 29 (Thu)

(Below is a meeting report kindly submitted by Devon Harlos. After Vancouver’s current chief planner retires in the near future, Vancouver will need to hire a new one. The search is on, and many people are watching carefully.)City Hall at night

Future and Past: Planners and Planning in the City of Vancouver
October 29, 7 pm, SFU Harbour Centre

Previous city planners, Ray Spaxman, Ann McAfee, Larry Beasley and Brent Toderian came together on Thursday, Oct. 29 to discuss the open position for a new planning director in Vancouver. They also talked about personal experiences in their former positions and their visions for the future of the city.

Starting the discussion, Brent Toderian shared his concern about the current political culture in City Hall, particularly in terms of the relationship between planners and City Council. He emphasized the need to re-evaluate the way planning decisions are being made and whether or not the current culture is working well for the public. According to Toderian, we need to ask ourselves the fundamental question of what kind of planner we really want—whether this is someone who routinely goes along with political will, or who acts independent of it.

Ann McAfee hopes that a new planner will reintroduce heavily research-based planning initiatives that are the product of a high amount of public consultation—a process she claims has been lost in recent years. She also commented on the new position title of “general manager, planning and development services,” and is worried that a more diverse set of responsibilities might mean time taken away from actual planning.

In Larry Beasley’s view, strong leadership qualities are essential for our new planning director and he claims that an aggressive, proactive planner with a strong vision is needed to move planning initiatives foreword. Affordability and housing supply problems can be attributed to a lack of proactive planning. Therefore, a new director of planning must have the ability to stimulate public support and the create political will to address these issues. He says that communication skills as well as passion will create a planning figure that leads rather than follows, and at the same time will build a constituency of support behind them.

Ray Spaxman cautions that if the new director of planning comes up too strongly against Council, difficulties could emerge. Instead, more success could be found with the encouragement and support of ruling party Vision Vancouver’s current principles, but without fear of speaking the truth. He hopes that when deciding on a new chief planner, Council will look for a balance of both technical and ethical aptitude and someone who will promote an honest relationship with Council and the public.

The panelists went on to discuss their visions for the future of city planning in Vancouver, followed by a question and answer period. All panelists agreed that the public needs to have a bigger role in the planning process.



Future and Past: Planners and Planning in the City of Vancouver

Date: October 29, 7 pm
Venue: Room 1400, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
Admission: Free, but reservations are required. Reserve

Once again, the City of Vancouver is looking for a new planner director. What should we be looking for — and what are the challenges a new planner must face?

The SFU City Program is bringing together some of the the City’s previous planning directors.

Ray Spaxman
Ann McAfee
Larry Beasley
Brent Toderian

We’re asking them to identify the questions we should be asking not just of the candidates but of ourselves: What vision for our city are we asking of our planner, staff and council? How do we generate the enthusiasm and capacity to build partnerships — and a passion for our city and region? Come join us.

One thought on “Report of “Future and Past: Planners and Planning in the City of Vancouver”: SFU Harbour Centre, Oct 29 (Thu)

  1. These guys are not my favourite planners they screwed up Vancouver more than once by pandering to these biker groups a small portion of the population

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