The Future of the City

Vancouver’s Planning Legacy and the City’s Future

In 2014, the Vancouver City Planning Commission organized a series of four events.  These events looked both back to the planning legacy that has shaped Vancouver,and forward into the planning challenges of the future.

Three of the events involved partners that the Commission has often collaborated with in the past; namely UBC and SFU.  For the fourth event, we reached out to past Commissioners and the wide range of perspectives which they have brought to the Commission over time.


Symposium: Planning the Metropolitan Region


Members of the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) faculty had embarked on a critical examination of Vancouver – ‘Vancouverism’ and 21st Century Urbanism – that was to culminate in the publication of a book of essays. The project combines a retrospective
assessment of Vancouver’s planning legacy with a look ahead to the city’s future and will be a continuing source of valuable ideas for development in future dialogues.

Commissioners participated in the symposium in April entitled Planning the Metropolitan Region: A Critical Perspective, which launched the book project. The Commission sponsored the videography of the presentations of nearly 30 of the region’s prominent urban thinkers, professionals and policy-makers. The presenters shared stories, reflections and critiques about the evolution of the City of Vancouver and the region.


Round Table: Vancouver’s Planning Legacy and the Future

Recognizing that many of the Commission’s past members have contributed in many ways to shaping the city, the Commission hosted a round table with past commissioners on June 25, 2014 to build on the dialogue initiated at the UBC SCARP symposium. The Commission reached out to more than 50 past Commissioners, and met with 24 of them for a round table discussion on the following question:

Given changing demographics, climate change, and global economic forces, does the planning legacy of the past adequately prepare us for the future in 2100?

What from our legacy will serve us, and what must we yet do?

The round table discussion generated a range of ideas. The key themes will help to shape future dialogues with a broader audience.


Public Lecture and Panel: Vancouver in the 21st Century

The Commission co-presented a public lecture on September 24, 2014 with the SFU Vancity Office of Community Engagement, entitled Vancouver in the 21st Century. The lecture, by urban planner and Commissioner Andy Yan, examined aspects of life in Vancouver through the lens of social statistics and community cartographies and addressed the following question:

If ideas of ‘Vancouverism’ framed city-building in Vancouver between 1986 to the present, what might be some of the new ideas on urban life that will lead us into Vancouver’s next century?

From real estate ownership to electoral participation to school enrollment, the lecture looked at the social, economic, and political opportunities and challenges facing the City and its region as it moves from a British colonial transit point to a Pacific metropolis.

The lecture was followed by a panel and audience discussion with Peter Ladner, Vanessa Timmer and Matt Hern, moderated by Frances Bula. Audience members were invited to share their comments at the reception.


SFU City Conversations: Does Vancouver need a City-wide Plan?

As CityPlan neared the end of its projected 20-year life, there was a lively discussion underway of what a new city-wide plan might mean for Vancouver and how it might be developed. The Planning Commission teamed up with SFU City Conversations to co-present a discussion on November 20, 2014 on the topic, “Does Vancouver need a city-wide plan?”

The presenters were Ann McAfee, Vancouver’s former Co-Director of Planning (with Larry Beasley) who guided the 1995 CityPlan; Patrick Condon, Chair of Urban Design at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture; and Peter Whitelaw, Principal at the Modus planning group with experience in creating and updating plans for other BC municipalities.

Ann McAfee, Patrick Condon, and Peter Whitelaw.

Documentation for the event including videos, transcripts, background and resources can be found here.