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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The evolution of municipal social planning Adams, Felicity


This thesis is about municipal social planning in Canada. The purpose of this work is to suggest conditions that may initiate the evolution of a process which results in a municipality introducing social planning as part of the function of local government. In the effort to identify these conditions, the oldest municipal social planning programs in Canada (Halifax and Vancouver) are examined, as well as more recent British Columbia examples. The case of the social planning program in the City ofNanaimo, British Columbia is studied in depth to shed light on the dynamics involved in establishing a municipal social planning program. In this thesis, the definition of municipal social planning utilized is borrowed from the Planning Institute of British Columbia which defines social planning as a process by which the community and government take action to support community needs, including social, physical, and economic realms. Such action includes the identification of social impacts and issues, the development of social goals, objectives, policies and priorities, the facilitation of citizen involvement, the presentation of options, and the negotiation of alternatives. A review of the literature provides the background information necessary to tell the story of the municipal role in social welfare in Canada from the 1880’s to the present day. Academic and community-based publications are surveyed to provide insight into how the literature defines “social planning.” Reports and articles by both academics and practicing social planners are reviewed to provide a description of two models of social planning: municipal and community-based. A review of both academic writings, municipal plans and studies, and community social planning documents provides a description of the typical goals, objectives and functions of social planning. The evolution of municipal social planning is learned from a review of various municipal documents and case study research. Conclusions about how municipal social planning programs are created and evolve, particularly about conditions that may initiate municipal social planning, are made through an examination of the evolution of several municipal social planning programs in Canada. The thesis concludes with the identification of seven general conditions that have preceded the introduction of municipal social planning in Canada: (1) on-going and organized citizen pressure/action; (2) lack of or minimal public involvement in decision-making; (3) significant community social issues; (4) community frustration with the allocation of social service resources by external agencies; (5) lack of effective planning and coordinating mechanisms; (6) unsatisfactory municipal response to social issues, both current and emerging; and (7) willingness on the part of the local government to initiate action.

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