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Change management : a framework for community and regional planning Ramlo, Andrew Marlo

Abstract

Planning is the ultimate expression of a community responding to growth and change, shaping its future through a collective set of values, goals and strategies. Over the past four decades planning policies and practices have largely focused on issues related to the growth of urban regions. Given the realms of change that will shape communities over the coming decades, these policies and practices need to reorient themselves away from aggregate notions of growth and towards the relevant agents of change. The goal of this research is to articulate a framework for the investigation of issues that will shape communities over the coming four decades; specifically how demographic change will impact on the future of community housing, land and financial resources. Although it presents one region as a case study (the Central Okanagan Regional District in British Columbia, Canada) the framework is intended to be used by any community or region to evaluate the extent of demographic change and its impact on issues related to community and regional planning. The first finding of the framework shows that over any strategic time horizon planning issues will be related to changes in a population's composition rather than aggregate notions of its growth. It is the patterns of lifecycle and lifestyle change that will shape issues ranging from land uses, housing markets and transportation demand to school enrolment, medical requirements or even funeral services. None of which can be accurately represented by the aggregate size of a region's population, as each are impacted by changes in its underlying composition. The second finding is that it is current residents, rather than new migrants to the region, that will direct changes in the age composition of a population. This leads to the assertion that we have a good approximation of the region's future population in those who are residents today: they will be slightly older, wiser and possibly a little wearier. Finally, this research also calls attention to a substantial lack of information. A lack of information concerning the fundamental processes of community change, and a lack of information regarding the economic, environmental and social costs associated with the location, density and timing of future development. Most importantly, current planning decisions are still largely predicated on aggregate notions of population growth, without sufficient information about the external costs and tradeoffs associated with these decisions. The future quality of life in any region will be directly determined by the degree to which both planning jurisdictions and the general public acknowledge and, more importantly, choose to respond to the challenges presented by change.

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