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The planning decision-making process of Vancouver’s False Creek : a case study 1968-1974 Elligott, Frederick Joseph

Abstract

This study analyses planning and decision-making methods. It is concerned with the soundness both theoretically and practically of the planning process used for the False Creek area of Vancouver for the period 1968-1974. Based on a case study, the evolution of the planning process from planning for decisions which resulted in further planning to planning for action is analysed. In doing so the study monitors the role of the planner, the influence of the politican and the involvement of the citizen in the planning decision-making process. Data for this study was assembled from numerous Vancouver City Council Minutes, Committee Minutes, Planning Department reports, newspapers (Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province), and a series of personal interviews with many of the actors involved in the process including politicans, planners and citizens. Prior to conducting this study there were indications that in False Creek would be found a new and innovative planning process; perhaps even an example of John Friedmann's 'Transactive Planning'. The grand scale of the planning, the existing location of the site next to the downtown area and a changed political climate all pointed to something new. Also the fact that change around the Creek was beginning to occur in early 1974 where it had not for thirty years prior, suggested a new found process of achieving action. However, upon completing this study, that which had appeared to be a new planning process was in fact largely political domination of the planning decision-making process. While change did occur in the aim and roles of the actors in the process, the change was not the result of a new planning philosophy or process. The change was in the political approach to achieving desired ends. The Vancouver City Council, elected in 1973-74, was dominated by the 'TEAM' party which was elected on a platform of building in False Creek within two years. To accomplish this the TEAM Council established an organizational structure through which the False Creek planners reported directly to the Special Council Committee on False Creek. In doing so the politicans were not only the main motivating force behind redevelopment on the City owned lands (area 6) in the Creek, but they also became the administrators who controlled preparation of Creek plans. One conclusion of this study is that the influence of the politican was the single most important and dominating factor which created and carried out the move to building in area 6 of False Creek. This study also concludes that while the role of the planner varied in False Creek between 1968 and 1974, in the final analysis their role remained unchanged. The planning department was working on overall Creek concept plans between 1968 to 1970. Four years later, in 1974, it seems a return to that role was emerging. The time in between witnessed the planning department's involvement on City owned lands in the Creek diminish to that of a spectator. Insofar as the involvement of Vancouver residents in False Creek planning is concerned, the general trend was toward less constructive and less influential input. While citizens were consulted during the 1968 to 1970 period, with their ideas forming the basis for concept planning, they were channeled, during 1973, through two city bodies (the Social Planning Department and the City Planning Commission) who had, at best, a minor input into the Creek planning process. This situation left citizens in a position of being peripheral to the process. From this study it has become apparent that when the politician controls the planning decision-making process to the extent that they did in False Creek during 1973, not only will a transactive process of planning not occur but the roles of the other two main actors, the citizens and the planners, are likely to diminish to the point where they have little or no importance to or impact on the planning decision-making process.

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