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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Conflicting expectations : the situation of the local area planner in Vancouver Daneluzzi, Lidio


Local area planning is an approach to city planning which has developed in Vancouver over the past five years, and a major unit in the administrative structure of the Vancouver City Planning Department. This thesis is concerned with the purposes of this approach as they have evolved, particularly with the interplay between the purposes actually served and the structure of the civic bureaucracy, and with the choices made by planners among conflicting demands. The methodology used has two elements, an historical analysis based chiefly on contemporary documents, and a sociological analysis of the role relationships of planners working in Area Planning based on interview data. The conclusions suggest that the original purposes for doing Area Planning are no longer being served by the existing organizational structure, and that there is an opportunity and a need for restructuring of the organization and restatement of the purposes if the objectives of Area Planning are to be attained. The Area Planning Division of the City Planning Department was established in 1974, in response to the public demand for participation in the planning process among other reasons. It has grown rapidly, to become the largest division in the Planning Department. A 1973 report suggested three basic reasons for introducing this new approach to planning in Vancouver. Planning is more effective if a strong centralized planning effort is coordinated with neighbourhood oriented planning at the local level. Local area planning brings the planning process closer to the people. Local area planning promotes planning with citizens on a cooperative basis, rather than confrontation responses to plans and proposals. The planner is seen as the central figure in the process. In addition to responding to policy directives and the informal support and guidance of others in the same situation, the position taken by a planner is shaped by compromises among the conflicting expectations and demands placed on the person in this position by those in a variety of related roles. Guidance, or the lack of it, through policy directives is researched through study of documents. The literature is also the basis for specifying three different models of the structure of the work situation in which the local area planner is the central element. These models identify by organizational position and interest the significant others in the planner's environment, but they do not indicate how the planner chooses among the inconsistent expectations and demands made by those involved in these role relationships. To develop the models further interviews were conducted with all of the planners in the Area Planning Division, their superiors to whom they are administratively responsible, representatives of other civic departments who are in frequent contact with Area Planning, some aldermen, and some citizens active in local area planning programmes in their own neighbourhoods. It is clear from the data that the rapid expansion of the Area Planning Division has not corresponded to a parallel expansion of area planning services. The major factor contributing to an increase in staff size is administration of two federal programs, NIP (Neighbourhood Improvement Program) and RRAP (Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program). RRAP is clearly an implementation program rather than planning, and NIP differs in significant ways from the local area planning ideal. The second major factor in the growth of the Area Planning Division is the development of an "in-house" group of planners working within City Hall using a planning approach which has little in common with the Area Planning concept. The growth of the division and diffusion of its activities seem to have negated the spirit which characterized the intent and early implementation of Area Planning. In addition to the loss of its initial motivation, Area Planning is now at a critical point in time because of the cancellation of future NIP programs and changes in the RRAP approach by the federal government. A restructuring or replacement of the Area Planning Division will be required to establish again a local planning approach as a part of more effective and democratic governance of the city.

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