2017-2018 Work Plan

The 2017-2018 Work Plan summarizes the high priority objectives for the Planning Commission term and establishes an action plan to achieve those objectives.

The mandate of the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) is to advise City Council on matters relating to the planning and development of the City as citizens of the City of Vancouver; and in particular, to represent ideas and opinions about the future of the city and to consider and report to Council on any proposal likely to have a significant effect on this future.


To help inform its work , the Commissions looks to the 2016 The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III)’s New Urban Agenda (NUA), which lays out a framework for resilient and sustainable urban development at the local, national and international level for the next 20 years. The NUA has benefited from the highest level of expertise from around the world in its background papers, and a series of extensive consultations and meetings conducted by partner organizations.

The negotiated text was adopted at the Habitat III Summit in Quito Ecuador in October 2016. Ignoring the UN-speak, the document outlines a bold vision to which cities should aspire. The Commission has embraced these aspirations for Vancouver and has adopted the NUA as a framework to guide its work for the next several years and beyond.

It is clear that Vancouver has already made considerable progress on many of the basic building blocks identified within the NUA and many other cities often look to the City as a model, nationally and internationally. This is a matter of well-deserved pride on behalf of Vancouver’s elected officials and professional staff, businesses, community organizations and citizens.

At the same time, the City of Vancouver is confronting several ‘wicked’ problems – particularly complex issues involving many levels of government and sometimes competing objectives of groups within the City. A few of Vancouver’s more challenging development-related issues include:

  • The growing gap between the rich and poor;
  • Affordability in general, and of housing in particular;
  • The credibility gap between public consultation processes and perceived results;
  • The relationship of planning programs to the development of sustainable and healthy neighbourhoods, and,
  • Concerns related to the sustainability and quality of public space and public amenities.

These highly complex issues could benefit from ideas, tools and techniques gathered at Habitat III and brought home by delegates from the region and also from a framework for designing new approaches, implementing them and reflecting on their successes and failures within an overall participatory learning-city model.

Our Approach

The Commission aspires to serve as a catalyst for dialogue and action, using its convening power to build synergy with the efforts of partners, thus bringing forward to Council the best advice VCPC can on behalf of Vancouver citizens. The Commission is cognizant of its small size, limited resources and the need to operate within a regional context, particularly on matters such as resilience. Thus it has established the following operating parameters to guide its work plan:

  • Work with partners,
  • Call upon an extensive network of Associates and Researchers (volunteers), and
  • Operate in an inclusive and participatory way – bringing people to its work who might not usually be involved in providing advice to City Council.

The Way Forward

Vancouver has been successful in many of its visionary plans; including the Greenest City Action Plan, the Healthy City Strategy, and the Renewable City Strategy. However,the City has been less successful in integrating these plans, and with inclusive and participatory governance.

The Commission believes it can play a useful role by using the NUA to look out 20 years and recommending to Council and partners ways in which Vancouver and the region can implement the NUA, in particular by encouraging a more integrated approach, within a participatory planning and implementation framework.  We believe this is best done by an ‘inside/outside’ commission that can experiment, reflect and learn in an iterative loop.

Milestones 2016 Year in Review event. January 30, 2017.

In 2017, The Commission undertook a series of workshops, working group meetings and events, culminating in a policy summit er in October 2017 focused on resiliency and Vancouver’s future. The workshops, meetings and events reached out to the broad Vancouver community (and its diverse and varied constituents) to help us understand community concerns, aspirations, and priorities as well as benefit from collective wisdom in identifying potential strategies. The Summit brought together great ideas from various working groups and selected researchers to establish a baseline for future actions.

Going forward several other theme have been identified as of particular interest to the Commission: They include:

  • A ‘City for All’: addressing the issues of inclusion, reconciliation and diversity to work towards a caring city that leaves no resident behind.
  • Communities and Corridors: strengthening the development of complete, sustainable communities/neighbourhoods, and an understanding of neighbourhoods and their evolution in light of mobility corridors and affordability. Balancing the development of “place” and “passage” when done well, can support a vibrant civic community.
  • ‘Engagement for Real’: exploring ways to improve the quality of public consultation, civic engagement, and community communication in order to enhance participatory and responsive planning within the City of Vancouver. The goal is to bridge gaps in expectations, and to further trust in the engagement process.
  • Financing the Public Good and Public Spaces: reconsidering how the public good, including investments in infrastructure and public spaces are financed in the city of Vancouver. Are our current financing processes sustainable, and appropriate, in providing adequate public spaces and amenities, today and in the future.
  • The Challenge of a Resilient and Adaptive City: how can we strengthen Vancouver’s resilience: our shared capacity to survive, adapt and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks our residents, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems experience?

In 2018, the Commission will also continue working with community partners, advisors and volunteers who have collaborated on the Chronology of Vancouver’s Planning and Development Milestones to enrich the content and expand the information available in the online timeline.

Chinatown of Vancouver
Vancouver’s Chinatown

Finally, the Commission will continue to examine current planning and development initiatives and engage in discussion around issues relating to the long-term future of the city with a view to providing comment that adds value to community discussion; and will report to Council as appropriate. As part of this role, Commissioners will continue to participate in the Heritage Action Plan Advisory Committee, the Urban Design Panel, and the Transportation Stakeholder Advisory Group.