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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The practice of urban planning in Canada Gerecke, John Kent


Despite the presence and growth of urban planning, urban problems persist and in some instances are worsening. A major problem of urban planning appears to be an inability to achieve a high level of accomplishment. Urban planning in Canada was examined by the Federal Task Force on Housing and Urban Development in 1969. They found it to be reactive, negative, without sociological or ecological concerns, and lacking in vision. These judgments are intuitive and require verification, but no empirical evidence is available on the practice of Canadian urban planning. The objective of this study, therefore, is to provide empirical evidence on the practice of urban planning in Canada in 1970 as a basis for its further assessment. To guide this study, the following hypothesis was tested: that the practice of urban planning in Canada follows the traditional model (physical orientation, reliance on long range plans, and an apolitical stance). A three stage approach was adopted to test the hypothesis and describe the practices examination of 1. procedural variables, 2, external variables, and 3. planning decisions. Procedural and external variables were identified from theoretical literature and empirical studies done in the U.S.A. Data was collected through a questionnaire mailed to the 7k urban planning directors in Canada of which 53 responses were received. For further understanding of the practice, three hypotheses about the determinants of the practice were tested using the Chi-square statistic (the practice is determined by 1. location of the agency, 2. local power structure, and 3. a complex of variables). In search of a more definitive explanation, a multivariate statistical technique was applied to the data. Lastly, an analysis of the important planning decisions over the past five years was made. This study has found that the traditional hypothesis cannot be accepted. Rather the practice has been modified in a complex way which de-emphasizes comprehensive planning, new ideas and the apolitical stance, and places new emphasis on physical development, zoning and subdivision regulations. Furthermore, Canadian, urban planning has not met urban problems because it has a limited approach. This limited approach has not been fully recognized or appreciated which leaves a void in the total planning spectrum.

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