Noel Buckland Dant was Edmonton’s first full-time urban planner. Born in England in 1914, Dant came to Edmonton in 1949 and championed new ideas about how the city should grow. He graduated from Yale and Harvard and then went to work designing subway stations for the new Toronto Transit System and, in 1949, was hired as a Senior Town Planner for the Chicago Planning Commission. Dant established the practice of “neighbourhood unit” planning. And, borrowing a popular urban design feature from his native land, he implemented the city’s first dozen traffic circles, then known as roundabouts.
He introduced a “town planned” design approach with curvilinear street patterns leading to school and community league sites and green spaces at the heart of the neighbourhood. Crescents and cul-de-sacs replaced row-upon-row streets. Housing was a mixture of mostly single detached dwellings, with some rowhouses and low-rise apartments.
Dant left Canada to work as a regional planning officer in Accra, Ghana, between 1955 and 1960. He returned to Canada then and became the Provincial Planning Director with the Department of Municipal Affairs until his retirement in 1979. Among his accomplishments was the outer ring road, which he convinced Edmonton City Council to adopt in principle in 1965.