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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community development : an integral technique in the process of community planning Barcham, Donald William Priestly

Abstract

In order to ensure genuine public acceptance of both planning proposals and of community planning per se, professional planning practices should involve a high degree of active citizen participation. The process of democratic action in contemporary North American urban areas is frustrated by the institutionalization of authority and responsibility, and as a result, the usual approach to the resolution of planning problems is often manipulative and managerial. Professionals tend to plan for the community rather than with it. Planning is conceived as a six-step process beginning with problem identification, and proceeding through goal formation, survey and analysis, design of a plan, plan implementation, and evaluation and reorientation. Community development, a process by which members of a community learn why and how to participate in the planning and control of changes which will affect them, is suggested as a technique whereby personal interest and democratic participation can be reinstilled in today's complex communities, as determining forces in the planning process. Community development achieves not only all the advantages of active citizen participation, but is concerned also with the progress of the individual, the development of co-operative facilities, and the strengthening of the process of democratic action. The process of community development involves fourteen elements, arranged according to seven periods over time, which can be integrated with the planning process. Although this integration appears to detract from the efficiency of the usual planning process, it does create good will and co-operation between citizens and technical planning experts, and provides continuity to the planning process through the conservation of organized community resources. It is no surprise to members of the planning profession to find that the degree of public acceptance of local government planning proposals is directly related to the amount of citizen participation which occurs during the evolution of those proposals. But for planners to relate the relative degree of public acceptance of a planning proposal to the number of elements of community development which were evidently utilized, either implicitly or explicitly, in the evolution of that proposal, is another matter. From a detailed study of five local government planning proposals developed in the City of Vancouver, it is concluded that community development should be used as a technique in the planning process, in order to gain the advantages of active citizen participation, and to ensure that the proposals will be acceptable to the people they are to affect. The responsibility for executing the community development process rests with the technical planners, the local municipal administration, and the leaders of the community in question. The financing of such a scheme would be shared between the community to be affected, and the municipal government, either through voluntary subscriptions, or tax revenues, or both. The conclusion based on the analysis of the case studies supports the arguments subtended previously. However, because planning is action oriented, it is concluded that the only true method of testing the hypothesis would be by attempting to apply a community development program in conjunction with the planning process, in an actual problem situation.

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