Mega-Issues in a Low-Growth Environment
Challenge and disruption is happening in every dimension – economic, technological, demographic, environmental, social and cultural, political, etc. A range of broad challenges call upon planners to lead solution-finding with their public interest commitment. Major themes here included:
Slow/Low-Growth or No-Growth economies
Demographics: Aging Population/ Ethnic Diversity/ Immigration/ Generational
Housing Crisis/Affordability/Low income and disparity
Economic development and sustainability
Changing Household make-up
Digital Transformation and Technology Developments –driverless cars, mobile, the need for broadband access, the Internet of Things, etc.
Sharing/On-demand economy, etc.
Governments are struggling to find the money to pay for what needs to be done to prepare communities for the future. Efficiencies and innovation are needed to foster responsible development at an affordable cost.
a. Cities are connected to the environments and resources that feed them. Planning needs to open up and be more holistic and systems-oriented, less stuck in small thinking and regulations-driven.
b. Big data is very important. How are municipalities going to manage big data?
a. Planners need to be city-building and community-building champions instead of process-champions.
b. Challenge to the profession is to make the public aware that we are thinking well into the future, guiding development to the best possible future.
Ontario’s Planning Realities
The work in regulatory due diligence is increasing, at the same time as budgets are decreasing or being squeezed for planning work. Planners are hard-pressed to find time for research, careful analysis, and public engagement, and creative thought. Planners must maintain their focus on good planning in the public interest within a highly political environment and sometimes conflicting interests of their employers. With a large number of regulatory and legislative changes coming in the next two years, planners will need help understanding the implications of these changes to their work.
The Rise of Public Participation in Planning
The public has more access to planning information than ever before and expects engagement. New technology has accelerated expectations for information sharing, transparency of process, and public consultation. In such an environment, Professional Planners need to have information at their fingertips to be able to respond to a more informed public, and work with new digital channels for public consultation.
a. The future of planning? We don’t own it. We have to reach out to others (other professionals and the public) and build bridges to others. By working together, we have a better chance. Everyone is concerned and responsible.
b. With all this collaboration, that there are lots of other people getting into our space too. We have to stay out there and top of mind. Collaboration makes it blurry.
a. Now there is expectation of 3D modelling and visualization coming, also the big data conversation, planning models, GIS, etc. Planners must know those techniques. We live in an information age. Even the public has access to so much information including plans, data and satellite imaging – which may increase appetite for democratic involvement. I am not sure our practices have caught up to this. Part of the planner’s role is managing information – not as a gatekeeper but making sense of extensive data. Planners have to be very adept at making sense of massive data.
New Planning Information and Technologies
There is excitement about the potential of new technologies to advance planning. Planners expect trends such as 3D modelling and visualization, big data manipulation, GIS, and other developments to change the way they work. In the coming era of the Internet of Things and smart cities and regions, planners and decision-makers will have a lot more data and must learn how to interpret and use it. New tools will enable more openness and sharing of data internationally. Much of this data will be available to increasingly well-informed and outspoken public stakeholders.
The Standing of the Profession
A Professional Planner cannot do his/her job without recognition of their professional skills, objectivity and perspective. A planner’s professional opinion must be respected and recognized as independent in order to serve the public interest rather than their employer’s. Most members see strengthened professional regulation linked to generating more recognition of what Professional Planners do, while recognizing they work in a highly collaborative environment.
a. Membership and the planners are the core of the organization.
b. There is a need to particularly address rural and northern issues.
a. Communicate status of initiatives… in 140 digits.
b. Allow more exchange. Foster discussion. Interact with members on issues.
Collaboration in Planning
The Professional Planner works with many related professionals including engineers, architects, landscape architects, lawyers, public health officials, and others. Planners bring many disciplines together to develop an optimal solution. There is interest in collaboration with other disciplines’ organizations both in supporting inter-disciplinary professional learning and focusing on issues that challenge Ontario. Planners are also developing specialty competencies and interests while upholding the core principles of planning.
Generational Change / Professional Pathways
A large number of Professional Planners from the Baby Boom generation are retiring or expected to retire in the next decade, taking a wealth of knowledge and experience with them. There is a large cohort of Millennials in less senior roles. Students and young professionals face challenges in launching their careers. New professionals expressed their need for a sense of belonging and a welcome space for their exchange.
National and Global Focus
There is a great interest among members and students in exploring common issues and best practices across Canada and the world. Collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Planning and other Provincial and Territorial Institutes is valued, and there was great appetite for collaboration on continuing education, advocating on behalf of the profession for sound policies on national issues, and to better profile and build awareness of the Professional Planner.
Membership Value and Participation
Regarding membership value, members value the Continuing Professional Learning (CPL) program, networking and knowledge exchange. Yet members’ needs and interests vary. Different degrees and forms of engagement are appropriate and desirable for different segments of the membership. The settings of planners and career-stage create distinct communities of interest and special needs. Members want OPPI to be relevant to what the member is facing and provide information, tools, support, connection and representation that meets their needs and interests. Affordability of fees was a concern for many. Some members expressed desire for more visibility into OPPI’s decision-making processes, and opportunities for input into those decisions.