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honouring 25 years of rpp

On December 9, 2019, the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Registered Professional Planners (RPP) designation in Ontario.

This province was the first jurisdiction in Canada to introduce legislation that protects the RPP designation and marks the day, according to Mark Dorfman, RPP, and Tony Usher, RPP and former OPPI President, “the planning profession came of age.” Since 1994, all the other provinces have followed OPPI’s lead and worked towards (and most have achieved) effective legislative protection of the RPP designation or a similar designation for professional planners.

Why Did OPPI Seek Legislation?

Way back in 1986, OPPI was formed. It was not until 1989 that work started on getting private members legislation to create and protect the designation. At the 1989 Annual General Meeting, it was members George Rich and Mark Dorfman who put forward a motion "That Council establish a working group to bring forward an application to the Ontario Legislature for a private bill recognizing OPPI and professional planners."1 OPPI formed the Private Bill Working Group which was tasked with “the initial drafting and reviewing [of] the Bill.”2

The reasons for the bill at the time remain true 25 years later3:
  • Members expect it. According to then OPPI President Tony Usher, “one of the messages that came out of the 1992 Membership Process Review is that we need to enhance our public policy profile and advocacy.”
  • Our colleagues are doing it. Other organizations such as the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers were promoting and advancing their cause by seeking legislative recognition. 
  • The times demand it. Again, according to Tony Usher, “the general decline of accommodation, conciliation, and consensus...have swept away the old, quiet ways of doing things, ways to which most of us were more temperamentally inclined.”
  • Planners shouldn't sell themselves short. “We were...behind most other professions in developing a collective organization, identity, and self-esteem...We have an enormous influence on life in this province. We account [at the time] for several hundred million dollars of economic activity each year. A lot of people outside OPPI would like to hear what we have to say and take us seriously.”

When the Lieutenant Governor gave his assent [to the OPPI Act], he signalled public confirmation of the Registered Professional Planner. Now, the onus is upon us to use our position in society in the public interest rather than our own,” said then member of the Private Bill Working Group, Mark Dorfman, RPP.4

OPPI As Trusted Partner

As noted by former Ontario Planning Journal  Editor, RPP and Senior Associate – Research with the Canadian Urban Institute, Glenn Miller, “for newcomers to the profession it is hard to imagine a time when OPPI wasn’t regularly consulted by government on matters affecting planning and development. OPPI has emerged as a credible professional association with a legitimate role to play in providing advice to the provincial government on planning policy and its implementation.”5

Over the past 25 years, planning has been brought to the forefront provincially and locally in municipalities across Ontario. Each year, many more residents in communities around the province become interested in planning as their neighbourhoods rapidly change and grow, decline or stagnate as they seek to better understand what is happening around them. As RPPs continue their valuable work, along with OPPI's Professional Code of Practice and Statement of Values, members seek to inform choices and inspire communities across Ontario.

RPPs as leaders and Community Experts

Ontario’s RPPs are the experts and the professionals specifically educated, trained and ethically committed to informing and guiding the choices made by elected officials, decision-makers and the public to inspire communities across Ontario in the public interest.
In an unbiased manner, RPPs facilitate the inclusion of multiple perspectives and offer an objective recommendation or opinion. RPPs gather and analyze information from all sides of an issue such as those of enormous impact like climate change, or on a smaller scale like the movement of goods and people using public transit, maintaining green space or managing the impact of aging workforces, attracting new and maintaining existing residents in smaller towns, to name a few. They also focus on rural and agricultural issues away from urban centres in an effort to protect farmland, the environment or find new ways to use existing land for planning purposes, and so much more. 
Our members help community stakeholders develop a 360-degree perspective before making any major decisions – the result, communities that are truly inspired, sustainable, healthy communities that are built first and foremost on informed choices, communities that we really want to live in, to grow in, communities that we love today and those that we can be proud to pass on to future generations.

To all new, current, former and retired RPPs, and those who were planning well before the OPPI Act as members of the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Ontario Professional Planners Institute salutes you for representing the planning profession well over the past 25 years!

The Institute looks forward to celebrating 50, 75 and 100 years (and more) of the RPP designation and planning profession in Ontario in the future!

Honouring the RPP Designation

Throughout 2019, OPPI will be honouring 25 years of RPP in a variety of ways: 
  • At the OPPI Conference. OPPI will take the opportunity at OPPI19: Beyond25 to look forward to the next 25 years and discuss the issues that impact Ontario today and will impact us in the future. Visit our Conference website and register today! 
  • Y Magazine. In each issue of Y Magazine published this year, we include an article that looks at the importance of this milestone from differing perspectives. 
  • Social Media, Newsletters and Planning Exchange Blog. Where OPPI has the opportunity, information about this milestone will be shared on these channels with members and the public.  
  • OPPI Districts. OPPI will ask its seven Districts to assist with the development of a time capsule to be opened in 25 years and to place a commemorative bench in each District, starting with Toronto District, over the next seven years. 
More information on these activities will be shared with members over the course of this year, and on this webpage. Stay tuned! If members have any questions, they can contact OPPI at


1. Tony Usher, RPP. "OPPI Act - Planners Come of Age." Ontario Planning Journal, May/June 1995, page 14.
2. Tony Usher, RPP. "OPPI Act - Planners Come of Age." Ontario Planning Journal, May/June 1995, page 14.
3. Tony Usher, RPP. "Report from the President." Ontario Planning Journal, Mar/Apr 1993, page 13.
4. Mark Dorfman, RPP. "Getting On With Our Act." Ontario Planning Journal, May/June 1995, page 15. 
5. Glenn Miller, RPP. "RPP Turns 10, and Ontario Planners Get Ready to Do Real Planning." Ontario Planning Journal, July/Aug 2004, page 15.