A Plan for the Future 2018.12.28

The city has decided to produce a plan for the future. People are wondering how the City of Vancouver will undertake what should be one of the most influential achievements of the 21st Century – the preparation of our Plan for the Future. Will this coming century be a time when successive populations will say,

“How fortunate we are that at the start of this century the Council of that time had the foresight and ability to create and implement a continuous planning process that has successfully enabled Vancouver to flourish in times of unprecedented technological, social, economic and political change”.

Perhaps this is the Council that will be able to start that process. I am starting a sequence of “Urbanarmers” that will explore that goal. Hopefully, as we learn more from City Hall about how they intend to involve us all in such a process, we will be able to participate as positively as possible in an exciting city wide process of building a community that can handle future change, however that might occur.

Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability said recently:

“This is an opportunity to look quite broadly and quite deeply into the city’s future, – so I would say policies—whether they are recent or old—are fair game for review. I think this exercise, honestly, is more than a review of existing bylaws and plans. It’s an opportunity to actually think bigger than Vancouver has done in generations, perhaps”.

National Planning Policy Framework

Here is one of the ideas that must be on the minds of our planners? It is about an initiative being undertaken in the United Kingdom.

The 2018 National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied. It provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans for housing and other development can be produced.

The newly revised National Planning Policy Framework of the United Kingdom was the subject of a debate on the community engagement platform Commonplace about the best ways in which planners can manage truly effective consultation processes. Specifically, what does – and should meaningful ‘effective engagement’ really involve today?

  • Just how effective is the word ‘effective’? What issues of interpretation does its use typically cause?
  • How is community engagement evolving? What influences are social, demographic and technological changes having on the process?
  • What impact are new forms of analysis such as sentiment mapping having on results of consultation exercises?
  • To what extent is handheld technology redefining how we democratize the consultation process?
  • What do people still get wrong about the fundamentals of engagement?

National Planning Policy Framework – PDF

Ray Spaxman
Former Director, City of Vancouver Planning Department
Principal, Spaxman Consulting Group


As a team of entrepreneurs, designers, technologists and urban planners, Commonplace is making engagement more open, trusted and diverse.

Commonplace is helping developers, councils, city managers and their communities to understand each others’ needs and communicate better. Traditional consultation can be manual, time intensive and a one-off snapshot. Commonplace aims to provide an ongoing channel of understanding and collaboration to reveal issues, suggest solutions, and help communities plan their neighbourhoods, co-design solutions and analyze the social impact of new developments.


A Plan for the Future 2019.01.13