City Hall job listings for “Director of Planning” (Chief Planner), and “General Manager, Planning & Development”

mystery director of planning(Updated Feb 29, with additional comments by Linda Light, Ned Jacobs, and Marion Jaimeson)

Global executive search firm Boyden has recently posted two key positions for the City of Vancouver: (1) Director of Planning (Chief Planner), and (2) General Manager of Planning & Development. For reference, below are the listings, and for good measure we also provide some observations from the community perspective by active citizens looking at the City’s wording and and its implications.

Our municipal government is in an unprecedented situation, with top posts vacant for months. We have been without a City Manager (the top civil servant at City Hall) since Penny Ballem was abruptly fired on September 15, 2015, with no reason known publicly even today. That position remains vacant (though Sadhu Johnston serves as “Acting” City Manager), and we have seen no signs of hiring activity there, though both new planning hires will report to that person.

As for these two planning positions now listed, the first was newly created when Brian Jackson was hired in 2012 (after previous Director of Planning Brent Toderian was abruptly fired earlier that year, also for no clear publicly-stated reason). Mr. Jackson covered both positions until his self-declared early retirement on November 6, 2015, but it now appears the City is separating the positions and hiring two people. No public explanation has been offered for this new strategy, as far as we know.

These top roles have a major influence on life in Vancouver. Citizens may wonder exactly who is controlling the power behind the scenes during the many months these posts have remained vacant. Who is really influencing the senior-level hirings and firings, which come at a considerable cost to the taxpayer, and which are clearly not directed by City Council?

We hope that the winning applicants will have a strong sense of integrity, be true “civil servants” in the service of the public, and be able to navigate the complex political system at City Hall, while remaining fiercely true to the spirit and letter of the City’s Code of Conduct, which elevates “integrity” and “decisions that benefit the community” above all else. The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods has also weighed in on their hopes and expectations for the hirees (see CVN Calls on Mayor and Council to Endorse Principles and Goals for Collaborative Neighbourhood-based Planning, 15-Jan-2016).

Yesterday the listings showed the application deadline as March 19, 2016, but it seems to have been removed as of today.

Listings with Boyden.ca

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Director of Planning (Chief Planner)
City of Vancouver, Vancouver, BC
https://www.boyden.ca/canada/opportunities/1049/director_of_planning_chi/index.html

With a mission to create a great city of communities that cares about people, the environment and opportunities to live, work and prosper, Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities. This reflects the City’s track record balancing exceptional achievements in urban planning and design, with the need to address important social challenges, all while working to pursue its goal to become the Greenest City in the world by 2020. As a result of this success, the City is used as a model for many other jurisdictions around the world interested in creating high density, sustainable and livable urban centres. With an annual operating expenditure in excess of $1.5 billion and over 10,000 employees, the City of Vancouver has been recognized as one of Canada’s top 100 employers and BC’s top employers.

As Chief Planner you are also the senior advisor to Council and the City Manager on all planning matters. The role also uniquely encompasses the statutory responsibilities of the Director of Planning and, as such, is responsible for land use planning and related policies, and represents the City in the planning and negotiation of major private and public developments. The Director of Planning leads an innovative team of 110 including an urban design group that is helping shape the present and future of Vancouver.

As the ideal candidate, you are a sophisticated and visionary planner with demonstrated experience developing and building community support for the implementation of leading edge urban planning and sustainability policy in a municipality. Armed with a graduate degree in Planning or related discipline, you have experience shaping the renewal and development of a city through robust policy framework. The role demands a clear vision, open mindedness, urgency, and decisiveness as well as respect for the contribution that the community and the private sector play in planning. As this is a high profile role with significant stakeholder and community interaction, you must demonstrate nuance, courage, and high integrity.

To explore this opportunity, please contact Lisa Kershaw, Derrick Chow or Brian MacDonald in our Vancouver office at 604-685-0261, or submit your resume and related information to vancouver@boyden.com.

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General Manager, Planning & Development
City of Vancouver, Vancouver, BC
https://www.boyden.ca/canada/opportunities/1048/general_manager_planning/index.html
With a mission to create a great city of communities that cares about people, the environment and opportunities to live, work and prosper, Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities. This reflects the City’s track record balancing exceptional achievements in urban planning and design, with the need to address important social challenges, all while working to pursue its goal to become the Greenest City in the world by 2020. As a result of this success, the City is used as a model for many other jurisdictions around the world interested in creating high density, sustainable and livable urban centres. With an annual operating expenditure in excess of $1.5 billion and over 10,000 employees, the City of Vancouver has been recognized as one of Canada’s top 100 employers and BC’s top employers.

The Planning & Development group has been instrumental to achieving this international reputation. The group oversees land use planning and development within the context of a broad range of social, economic, physical and environmental sustainability issues affecting the livability of this world class City. Managing a team of over 400, as GM you have a broad operational and strategic mandate that includes oversight of land use planning and urban design; development and building applications, and permit issuance; and building policy and inspections. Reporting to the City Manager, you will lead a number of large-scale business transformation initiatives that improve efficiency, service excellence and value for the residents, builders and stakeholders of the City of Vancouver.

As the ideal candidate, you are an innovative and accomplished executive with experience in a large municipality where you have led a large, diversified team. An inspirational leader who fosters excellence, you demonstrate sound judgement, a commitment to public service and are recognized as a trusted professional who understands how to drive best practices and operational excellence. Experience in development, planning and/or building would be an asset but not essential. A graduate degree is ideal, a professional registration preferred. The role demands superior communication, negotiation, and relationship skills; a commitment to the public service; as well as an ability to lead a transformational agenda.

To explore this opportunity, please contact Lisa Kershaw, Derrick Chow or Brian MacDonald in our Vancouver office at 604-685-0261, or submit your resume and related information to vancouver@boyden.com.

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OBSERVATIONS BY CITIZENS

BY LINDA LIGHT, 29-FEB-2016

This trend to view government as a “business” and citizens as “customers” or “consumers” entered government-speak in the early 2000s. I had been working for the provincial government at that time for 20+ years, and it was when that transformation in language became pervasive (and mandatory) that I decided enough was enough. I had worked for both Social Credit and NDP provincial governments with varying degrees of frustration and inspiration, but it wasn’t until the provincial Liberals took over that that transformation took place, at least at the Provincial govt. level. It was insidious – and horrifying to those of us trying to do good social justice work within government.

Since then, that transformation of citizens into consumers or customers has crept into almost all components of government at all levels. And most recently it has become pervasive at the civic level. I think Marion is right that it speaks to a fundamental shift in the role that governments are “supposed” to play, and gets slipped by most people who either don’t even notice, at this point, or agree with the premise, either ideologically or because they just accept it as inevitable. But I think calling governments on this shift at every opportunity, to draw people’s attention to the significance of this fundamental change in government’s role and what it really means for citizens and the society we live in, is very important.

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BY NED JACOBS, 28-FEB-2016

Jane Jacobs also found this trend disturbing. In 1992, Random House published Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics, in which she identified two moral ‘syndromes.’ The ‘guardian syndrome’ has its origins in control of territory, and primarily applies to work concerned with politics and governance, including regulation of commerce. The ‘commercial syndrome’ applies to work concerned with production and trade. Adhering to the values—which Jane called ‘precepts’—specific to each syndrome are crucial to the success of the societies they serve. Jane did not invent these precepts; they have arisen in cultures throughout the world, and their demise has been both a cause and effect of decay and collapse of civilizations. Through long research she gleaned them from the historical record and media accounts, the basis for her analysis and book.

Both syndromes are essential and symbiotic; but the precepts belonging to one syndrome are inappropriate to the other. For example ‘shun force’ (commercial), and ‘shun commerce’ (guardian). When inappropriately applied, the result is a ‘monstrous hybrid’. A prime example is criminal organizations, which engage illegally in commerce, corrupting law-enforcers with bribes, while using military-type force to eliminate competition and enforce collection of debts—but there are many other monstrous hybrid permutations.

According to Jane, calls to run government ‘like a business’ and redefine citizens as ‘customers’, function as invitations to produce corruptive monstrous hybrids and damage the separate-yet-supportive symbiosis of these fundamentally distinct categories and cultures of work. The shift in language and practices by governments, which Linda Light and Marion Jamieson have remarked upon in response to the very revealing wording of the Robertson Administration’s request for applicants to the positions of General Manager of Planning and Development and Director of Planning, are, I think, symptomatic of the growth of monstrous hybrids and the corruption of both governance and commerce on many fronts and levels. Since regulation of land use is one the few powers embodied in municipal governance, it is in planning and development that monstrous hybridism is most prevalent and consequential.

The ability of elected municipal officials to solicit and accept large, almost completely unregulated, donations from real estate and development interests (legalized bribery), spurred by our over-inflated housing market, has made a monstrous hybrid of land-use planning and regulation in the City of Vancouver. The move to sever the role of Director of Planning (required as a safeguard in the Vancouver Charter) from the new role of Manager of Development Services (created by the current administration after Brent Toderian was fired ‘without cause’, for his replacement, Brian Jackson) is a manifestation.

The fact that under the new system the DoP “reports” –is subordinate—to the MP&D, for whom “Experience in development, planning and/or building would be an asset but not essential”, who in turn interacts with the real decision makers—the ethically compromised political administration and their development industry patrons—tells me that the move is intended to strengthen, not disable, this monstrous hybrid, and bodes ill for the future of community planning and urban design in Vancouver.

BY MARION JAMIESON, 26-FEB-2016

The City of Vancouver’s Job Descriptions

I have a number of concerns with the job descriptions (JDs) for the General Manager of Planning & Development (GMP&D) and the Director of Planning (DOP)

General Manager, Planning & Development

1) Why is the City’s most senior administrator the General Manager of Planning & Development? Surely development is only one aspect of planning – the final outcome of the process? This job title underscores the historic and ongoing development-orientation of our City’s ruling elites. This orientation has also meant that, instead of having an Official Community Plan like every other municipality in BC, we have an Official Development Plan.

2) As governance is very distinct from business, it is worrisome when government refers to its activities as a business.  For instance, the GMP&D’s JD includes leading: “large-scale business transformation initiatives that improve efficiency, service excellence and value for the residents, builders and stakeholders of the City of Vancouver”. How can the task of managing a City possibly be described as a “business transformation initiative”?

3) The fact that builders are singled out as an interest group and given equal weight with residents is telling.  There is no logical reason for builders not to simply be included in the category  of stakeholders. It suggests that the City administration’s priority is not the enhancement of communities  but the promotion of building.

4) The emphasis on the City’s “transformational agenda”  is also disturbing. This reflects the egomaniacal nature of the forces behind the scenes that are reshaping our City in their own image.  It brings to mind all the historical monomaniacs who have undone the integral nature & heritage of cities in order to impose their own stamp on them. Jane Jacobs warned us 50 years ago against the urban renewal zealots that level the most vibrant areas & replace them with sterility.

Director of Planning (Chief Planner)

1) The fact that the DOP is in merely an advisory position to the GMP&Development is another clear signal that the process of planning is secondary to the business of development for this administration.

2) The emphasis on urban renewal (does Renewal Partners even write their JDs?)  is reiterated in the JD  of the DOP who is responsible for “shaping the renewal and development” of Vancouver. No reference to protecting & enhancing existing character & livability of neighbourhoods.

3) The DOP must also be a “visionary planner” with “a clear vision” (a clear Vision?). This suggests that only candidates who agree with the current administration’s Vision, or are willing to comply with it, need apply. From the perspective of the neighbourhoods, the Vision appears to be more of a hallucination, as livable, low cost housing is replaced with unaffordable investment opportunities, more citizens join the ranks of the poor and the middle class shrinks . But in both JD’s the administration credits itself with having created “…a great city of communities that cares about people, the environment and opportunities to live, work and prosper….”. It is regrettable that neither JDs seek candidates willing and able to address the City’s foremost challenges.

4) In the DOP’s JD the private sector is again separated out from the community and given equal weight when the DOP is expected to have “respect for the contribution that the community and the private sector play in planning”.  Is the private sector not part of the community? If any part of the private sector is not part of the community, for instance, foreign investors, their interests should not carry equal weight in planning decisions.  That’s why they call it community planning as opposed to business planning.

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RELATED ARTICLES

Prominent architects slam Vancouver’s planning and development
Comments coincide with plan to have separate managers of those two civic functions, by Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, 26-Feb-2016
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/prominent+architects+slam+vancouver+planning+development/11747697/story.html

 

 

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