The mandate of the Vancouver City Planning Commission 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.
Each year, the Commission organizes conferences, consultations, competitions, presentations, and research on topics including housing, public realm, neighbourhoods, transportation, and public engagement.
Here is a sample of our past initiatives:
A City for All: In 2018, the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) is hosting a series of events under the theme, “A City For All”, culminating on December 3, 2018 in a summit about how diversity, inclusion and reconciliation can contribute to improving Vancouver’s resilience in the face of shocks and stresses.
World Urban Forum 9: In February 2018, the Vancouver City Planning Commission joining urban leaders from over 150 countries in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for World Urban Forum 9 (WUF9). The World Urban Forum is a non-legislative technical forum convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) held since 2002.
Shaping Resilience: The Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC), in collaboration with the City of Vancouver, 100 Resilient Cities, and Simon Fraser University’s Public Square, hosted an invitational Summit on resiliency and Vancouver’s future on October 25, 2017. The summit aimed to encourage dialogue among thought leaders, experts and influencers from the public, private, non-profit and academic sectors.
Rethinking the Region is an annual day-long conference organized by SFU’s Urban Studies Program. It provides an opportunity for dialogue, reflection and learning about the past, present and future of the Metro Vancouver region. In 2017, the Commission co-hosted the conference. The topic was the role of citizen advisory bodies in shaping urban policy in Metro Vancouver and the Seattle region. Together, we reflected on big picture principles regarding how citizens can or should engage on policy issues with local governments. The day also provided opportunities to learn about specific examples of how local citizen advisory bodies have influenced urban policy.
Habitat III: The Vancouver City Planning Commission is particiaptring in the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016. The focus of Habitat III is the implementation of a New Urban Agenda (NUA), which lays out a framework for resilient and sustainable urban development at the local, national and international level. The Commission has endeavoured to connect our efforts to the New Urban Agenda and other outcomes from the Quito Conference whenever possible. Two particular ares of focus include resilience and participatory planning.
Planning Framework for the City: The Planning Commission will continue its exploration on future directions for the city’s planning framework, using several lenses or planning principles. One of these key concepts is resilience, where Vancouver has received international recognition for its leadership as a resilient city and has joined the 100 Resilient Cities Network. The concept of resilience has potential both as part of a planning and evaluative framework and as a platform for engaging citizens in conversation about the future. We will undertake this work through various engagement channels: initiating community discussion and as a vehicle for public participation.
Milestones in Vancouver’s Planning and Development History: The Planning Commission continued working with the community partners, advisors and volunteers who collaborated on the first edition of the Chronology of Vancouver’s Planning and Development Milestones (see 2015 initiatives, below) to enrich the content and expand the information available in the online timeline. As an accessible overview of key moments in how Vancouver has evolved, the timeline provides a valuable historical foundation for thinking about the city in the future, while the ‘year in review public events provide the opportunity for citizens to engage in reflection on the significant planning and developments of the previous year.
Vancouver’s Planning Culture and Principles: Following the announcement in July of the pending retirement of the General Manager of Planning and Development, Brian Jackson, the Planning Commission partnered UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, SFU City Program and SFU City Conversations to organize a trio of events on Vancouver’s planning culture and principles.
The Future of our Waterfront: In 2009, Council adopted the Central Waterfront Hub Framework. The first development proposal for the area north of Cordova Street sparked public interest in the implementation of the framework. The Commission partnered with SFU City Conversation to co-host a public discussion on the future of Vancouver’s downtown waterfront.
Milestones in Vancouver’s Planning and Development History: A Chronology: The background material for the Commission’s dialogues and other special events often includes a list of significant events in the history of planning and development of the city. In 2014, the Commission initiated a project to substantially improve existing lists with a chronology of milestones that is comprehensive, reliable and informative. One of our partners in this project is the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, which created a course on Vancouver’s planning and development history in which students identified milestones up to 2014. These were entered into an online timeline which was launched in January 2016 at a public panel event to identify significant events of 2015 that could be potential milestones in the future.
Planning the Metropolitan Region: Commissioners participated in a symposium in April organized by the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) entitled Planning the Metropolitan Region. The symposium launched a critical examination of Vancouver, Vancouverism, and 21st Century Urbanism that will culminate in 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 thinking about the city.
The Commission sponsored the videography of the presentations of about 30 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.
Vancouver’s Planning Legacy and the Future: The Commission hosted a round table with past commissioners in June to build on the dialogue initiated at the SCARP symposium. The dialogue responded to the following questions: 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?
Vancouver in the 21st Century: This co-presentation with SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement will include a lecture by Andy Yan, urban planning and VCPC Commissioner, which will look at various aspects of life in Vancouver through the lens of social statistics and community cartographies. From real estate ownership to electoral participation to school enrollment, it looks 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.
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 second century? The lecture will be followed by a panel and audience discussion with Peter Ladner, Vanessa Timmer and Matt Hern, moderated by Frances Bula. Event date: on September 24: further details here.
Does Vancouver need a city-wide plan? As CityPlan nears the end of its projected 20-year life, there is 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 topc “Does Vancouver need a city-wide plan?” with presenters Ann McAfee, Vancouver’s 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.
Documentation for the event including videos, transcripts, background and resources can be found here.
For more information about the Commission’s current work:, please consult the Agendas and Minutes for Commission meetings, online at the City’s website.