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Urban Planners and the Rural Equivalent

I’m glad I’m not a planner, particularly one in Ottawa after reading this criticism…

Do not think that it is the city-employed planners who are going to negotiate with the developers a development project in the public interest," says Dimitri Roussopoulos, founder and CEO of Urban Ecology, a think-tank on sustainable urban development.

"A lot of what happens in neighbourhoods and cities is driven by very influential and powerful economic interests," he told a public meeting on intensification at City Hall last week.

"If the citizenry of the City of Ottawa is not organized to survey and to watchdog the urban planning process … you are screwed."

Economics often drives city planning, expert warns

It’s interesting to read this sort of thing, and I guess to some degree it is much more applicable in the larger cities, where things happen much faster, developers and planners are relatively anonymous in a crowd, and there are many more people to complain about things.

Relating this to what I see in smaller cities and rural centres, the development that is occurring is often tourism or amenity migration based, and can involve a great deal of gentrification. Most planners are pretty wary of any plan to change the face of their city, particularly if it’s a small one and they live there.

Dimitri’s point may well be valid in Ottawa, where one group of planners are determining the zoning and Official Community Plan requirements (policy planners) and another group is working at the individual site level with developers to determine an appropriate interpretation of the policy (site planners). In smaller towns and cities, the guy who wrote it is the guy who is referring to it to justify or approve developments – much less room for confusion.

Anyway – glad I’m not a planner!

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.