VCPC Charter

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09 January 2014

The Commissioners of 2013 developed this charter as an articulation of how they understand and seek to carry out the Commission’s mandate.

Who

We are a planning commission of citizens appointed by Council to provide advice on matters affecting the City’s future.

What

We advise City Council through a future-oriented lens, bringing a long-term perspective to planning issues in Vancouver.

Why

The Commission is not an advocacy or stakeholder group and as a result, we are in a position to provide Council with perspectives and insights that may not find their way into the Council arena through staff reports or public comment. Originally set up to give continuing attention to long-range issues, the Commission balances immediate and short-term political considerations with an objective long-term perspective.

How

We aim to produce work that is informed, relevant, valuable, objective, and collaborative. Bridging silos, we are conveners who share knowledge and best practices that transcend any one special interest group or discipline, informing and identifying opportunities for advancing policy and decisions that will lead to a thriving future for all citizens of Vancouver.


Vancouver City Planning Commission By-Law No. 5064

Interpreting the By-Law: Mandate

“…the Council of the City of Vancouver is empowered to create a Commission to advise the Council on planning matters…”

7. The duties of the Commission shall be to assist City Council in an advisory capacity by considering and submitting reports to City Council on matters relating to the planning and development of the City and in particular, but without restricting the generality of the foregoing:
(a) to represent ideas and opinions about the future of the city, as citizens of the City of Vancouver;
(b) to consider and report to Council on any proposal likely to have a significant effect on the future of the City;

1. Mandate In General

“a Commission to advise the Council on planning matters”

“to assist City Council in an advisory capacity by considering and submitting reports to City Council on matters relating to the planning and development of the City”

“as citizens of the City of Vancouver”

a) Focus of Work

  • The Commission is a planning commission
  • The range and scope of the Commission’s work mirrors the range and scope of matters that fall under the umbrella of planning for the city’s future.
  • Inasmuch as the planning and development of the city is governed by a framework of policies and plans adopted by Council, the Commission’s advice to Council will be primarily in the area of policy.

b) Relationship to Council

  • The distinct value of the Commission as a source of advice about the city’s future is that it is an official body created by Council with direct access to Council.
  • The Commission seeks to provide valuable advice to Council, such that Councillors value investing time in their relationship to the Commission.
  • The Commission needs to have Council’s confidence in the quality of the advice provided relating to the future of the city or general planning matters.
  • The Commission needs to be informed about Council’s priorities, key issues, discussions, and composition.
  • The Commission’s work and members need to be visible before Council.
  • Commission work that does not conclude with discussion with Council in the Council chambers will not have the opportunity for direct influence on the scope of Council’s deliberations and ultimate decision-making.

c) Citizens of Vancouver

  • Although Commissioners will naturally bring professional perspectives, business interests, political agendas, and personal values, when deliberating as Commissioners they do so as citizens of the city concerned about planning matters.
  • Because the Commission is not a group of stakeholders or specific interests, it is in a position to provide Council with perspectives and insights that may not find their way into the Council arena through staff reports and public comment.
  • The Commission speaks ‘as’ not ‘for’ citizens of Vancouver.

2 Mandate – Specific Areas

“in particular, but without restricting the generality of the foregoing:

(a) to represent ideas and opinions about the future of the city, as citizens of the City of Vancouver;

(b) to consider and report to Council on any proposal likely to have a significant effect on the future of the City;”

Mandate Part a)

  • Mandate part a) empowers the Commission to look beyond the City’s current planning framework and practices at future challenges and opportunities that the City should be anticipating.
  • Relevant subjects for advice under part a) may emerge from knowledge of items currently on Council’s agenda or underway in the city, or from other sources.

Mandate Part b)

  • Mandate part b) requires the Commission to advise Council on items on Council’s agenda with significant potential future impact.
  • In order to ‘consider and report’ on specific items, the Commission may need to stay informed about staff work on the item from the outset until the staff report is debated by Council.

“…only such a Commission can give continuing attention to long-range problems; only through use of such a Commission can the long-range viewpoint take precedence over political and departmental expediency.”

Harland Bartholomew