UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effectiveness of a metropolitan agency in improving the local municipal planning process : an evaluation of the case in metropolitan Vancouver Wakelin, Charles Harold


This thesis is aimed at solving two common problems in local municipal planning agencies in metropolitan areas: first, the problem of proceeding with making long-range plans in the face of current, daily responsibilities, and second, the problem of making realistic plans in the context of the forces and pressures of metropolitan life. The hypothesis is formulated that advance planning services can be supplied more efficiently to municipalities in a metropolitan area by a common agency than by municipal planning agencies. It is assumed that the common planning agency is a department of a federated type of metropolitan government, and that it is required to produce a metropolitan general plan for official adoption. In this investigation, which is intended to provide material for use in Canadian metropolitan areas with populations of 400,000 and over, two basic research techniques are used: a review of literature and a case study examination. A framework is developed for testing the efficiency, in a wide sense of the word, of advance planning agencies. In the review of literature, the concept of division of labour as a basic component of bureaucratic organization, is described, and then a survey is made of situations in which planning is carried out by a department of a metropolitan government, using the official plan technique. The instances are the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Winnipeg and Dade County, Florida. It is observed that difficulties can arise when there is a question of local communities surrendering some of the rights to control development within their boundaries. Alternative means of carrying out metropolitan planning are described, as well, principally with reference to the United States. The area selected for the case study is the metropolitan area of Vancouver in British Columbia. A questionnaire is developed to test the capacity of local planning agencies to make soundly-based plans, which interlock with the plans of neighbouring communities, and which harmonize with the goals and values of their own communities. The questionnaire is applied to a sample of local planning agencies, and, for comparison, the agency responsible for planning, the Lower Mainland Region, of which the Vancouver Metropolitan Area, constitutes a part. A second questionnaire is used to discover the attitudes of selected mayors and reeves towards metropolitan government and metropolitan planning in the Area. It is concluded from the case study that a metropolitan planning agency can carry out basic analyses better than local agencies can, and that a metropolitan general plan would reduce points of friction between municipalities relating to land use. It is also noted that the reeves and mayors are far from unanimous about the advantages of metropolitan government and metropolitan planning. Proposals are made for improving long-range planning of local municipalities, through the establishment of a system of metropolitan planning in the Vancouver metropolitan region. It is concluded that, while in general, it is advantageous for a metropolitan area to have some form of planning agency at the metropolitan level, it is impractical to assign all advance planning to such an agency, since long range planning is required at the micro-scale as well as at the macro-scale. It is therefore apparent that while the administrative system proposed in the hypothesis can assist the production of meaningful local plans in the metropolitan context, it can only partially reduce the pressure of work on local planning agencies. It is noted that there is widespread reluctance to assign decisive planning powers to metropolitan governments. An alternative hypothesis is evolved for further testing. It is suggested that investigation be carried out into the influence of geography on attitudes toward metropolitan co-operation; and it is recommended that consideration be givencto using the universities to conduct basic metropolitan studies. The influence of senior government decisions on metropolitan development is noted, and a recommendation is advanced to facilitate more comprehensive urban and metropolitan planning.

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