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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Planning strategies for Canadian urban planners : a case study of Regina Salomaa, Diana Rita


The purpose of this thesis is to examine a new approach to planning as advocated by Ron Clark, the Director of Planning in Regina from 1976 to 1980. Compared to the traditional planning role, Clark outlined an activist orientation to planning based on the following five strategies. It was short term and issue oriented as opposed to "master" planning, policy planning versus reactive and regulatory planning, public participation rather than planning for private interests, and political intervention instead of a passive and non-controversial role. The study reviews the relevant literature to develop a theoretical perspective on the urban planner's role. The traditional approach to planning, the rational comprehensive model, is examined along with two basic reforms to this model in order to contrast the planning style advocated by Clark. Next, theoretical concerns regarding each of Clark's strategies are outlined. A case study of the inner city is the basis for analyzing the extent to which these strategies were put into practice. In addition, the formulation of Regina RSVP, a municipal development plan for the City, is examined to ascertain the extent of public input as the latter strategy was to be a major feature of planning in Regina. The study concludes that Clark was successful in introducing a new planning process to Regina. This was reflected in city council's support of Regina RSVP. Rather than being a traditional land use plan, RSVP documents presented a strategy for public planning, described major and emerging issues confronting the City, and offered policy objectives for resolving these issues. In the process, a model for the future development of Regina emerged. The case study on inner city planning clearly showed that Regina planners were successful in implementing their strategies. Planning staff and community groups identified pressing inner city problems, short term action was taken, planning was policy oriented, there was a considerable amount of community level participation, and Regina planners were activists in terms of both initiating action and lobbying for the implementation of planning goals. However, the study also found some limitations in the application of these strategies. With respect to Regina RSVP, public participation was not initiated at an early stage of the planning process. There was a lack of documented evidence on many inner city problems or research on viable growth alternatives. Lastly, the strategies of political intervention and public participation create potential role conflicts as to who should initiate planning goals. Two external constraints which reduced the effective application of these strategies also became apparent. First, policy planning at the local level is difficult due to the dominant role of the provincial government. Secondly, planners are constrained in making long term improvements as their legitimacy has been limited primarily to technical matters. Local planners are unable to make any basic changes as they have little power to influence social and economic trends. At best, they can support programs that alleviate some of their worst effects. This case study has illustrated an approach to planning that re-defined the planner's role beyond the traditionally passive and technical role critics have claimed characterize the profession. Regina planners were largely successful in implementing their strategies. Because the approach used in Regina went well beyond basic reforms to the profession, and proved to be implementable, the strategies of short term action, issue orientation, policy formation, public participation, and political intervention should be used by other urban planners in Canada. If planners want to assume a more influential role in city development, there will have to be more discussion on the practice and function of the planning profession. Planning education should also reflect a more responsible role for planners. The values and purposes of planning should be stressed over technical competency. An understanding of who and what we are planning for is more important than achieving proficiency in using planning tools.

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