What is Planning?
"Planning" means the scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities.
Responsible planning has always been vital to the sustainability of safe, healthy, and secure urban environments. Canada's population is growing and, with more people migrating from rural to urban areas, the planning profession must increasingly deal with urbanization issues, such as:
- conversion of land from natural habitats to urban built areas,
- maintenance and use of natural resources and habitats,
- development of transportation related infrastructure,
- ensuring environmental protection.
Not only do planners deal with land use, but also:
- planning social and community services,
- managing cultural and heritage resources,
- creating economic capacity in local communities,
- addressing transportation and infrastructure,
- work internationally.
Over that last century, Canada has been transformed from a rural to an urban, industrial society. The impact of this transformation on our cities, towns and communities has provided us with some of our greatest challenges as a society. How do we serve everyone's needs? How do we provide and maintain the daily services that make life pleasant and efficient? How do we add to the community without destroying its past? How do we sustain our environment for the present and renew it for the future. One of the key contributors to making urban and rural life workable, livable, and prosperous is the professional planner. A planner provides research, reasoned analysis and recommendations to both the public and the private sector, intended to meet the needs of all sectors of society.
Considering the Whole
One of Canada's important planners at the beginning of this century, Thomas Adams, regarded good planning as "the conservation of life and economy in the system of developing land." The best planners need many skills to make sure all considerations are met during a project.
Planners measure and analyze statistical information for its implication. They examine actions to understand their intended--and real--effect.
Planners integrate the goals of sustainable development, good government and economic viability when evaluating proposals and strategies. They may work for the public or the private sector, but ultimately their work becomes part of or a catalyst to public policy. Planners' work balances various private interests with the public interest and identifies viable, workable options.
Planners employ diverse and thorough consultations as part of their research to ensure that as many voices as possible are heard and considered during the planning process.
The implementation of any plan, however well thought out, involves changes, and change does not always come easily. Planners strive to develop clear plans for action and implement ongoing evaluations of successes and failures as part of their work. With increasingly complex urban challenges, planners need a set of skills and talents that includes knowledge of land, air and water resources, employment trends, cultural diversity and associated issues, the use and needs of new technologies, and conflict resolution. There are many tools, both well established and state-of-the-art, used in the planning process:
- vision and strategy sessions of interested groups
- ideas fairs to bring together the best of new concepts
- computer simulations and scale models of plans
- design workshops
- social and environmental impact analysis