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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The scope of retail/commercial planning at the municipal government level Waitt, Barry Douglas


The functioning of the retail sector and the commercial structure of Canadian urban areas has become increasingly important in the 1980's, as the prosperity of major Western cities becomes more dependent on their ability to function as commercial service centers. The public responsibility for regulating the development of retail/commercial facilities is primarily a task for municipal governments. In light of this, this thesis critically examines the scope of planning for retail/commercial development at the municipal government level, using the Municipality of Richmond as a case study. This study suggests that there is room for the Municipality of Richmond to increase their effectiveness in planning and regulating commercial development, largely through allowing municipal planners to expand their scope of involvement in this field. In the literature review, commercial land use planning abroad, as well as various theories, concepts, and models that contribute to the commercial planning process are discussed. The purpose of this is to discover planning practice and commercial planning theory that could be useful for planners that have the responsibility of planning for retail/commercial development. A policy analysis of retail/commercial planning is provided through a review of municipal government documents that are relevant to public sector planning for commercial development in Richmond and through a series of interviews with planners and other public officials who are involved in commercial land use planning in the municipality. From this policy analysis, questions are raised about the scope and comprehensiveness of retail/commercial planning in Richmond, as well as how long-range an approach is applied to this sector. Utilizing the information collected in the literature review, as well as the interviews, several suggestions are offered on how the Municipality of Richmond could apply certain concepts to improve their effectiveness in planning for retail/commercial development. The suggestions include 1) an articulated commercial planning policy, 2) consideration of a broader range of factors when making decisions about commercial development, 3) more sophisticated research on retailing issues, 4) an awareness of the impact different forms of retailing can have on the commercial structure, 5) utilizing private sector expertise, and 6) adopting a regional perspective toward commercial planning.

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