One of the most interesting and complex challenges a city planner can be a part of, is the creation of a new city-wide plan—particularly one for an ambitious municipality that truly wants to change business-as-usual. Over my career I’ve worked on many city plans, both here in Canada and outside of North America.
I hadn’t realized the amount of pent-up perspective I had accumulated on the matter of successful plan-making, until I began working with city staff and my consulting team partners at DIALOG on a new city-wide plan for Abbotsford, British Columbia. Who’d have thought that it would be a plan for a city just up the highway that would end up being one of my most interesting case studies in better plan-making.
Our Abbotsford process, officially dubbed “AbbotsForward” (or #AbbotsFWD for the hashtag savvy) has already been a rich opportunity to rethink the business-as-usual of municipal plan-making…and we’re not done yet! In short, this is a plan worth watching. You can easily eavesdrop by following along on twitter at @Abbotsforward.
A seemingly small but surprisingly powerful early step in this new way to plan-make was my impromptu assembly of a list of “Top 10 Keys to a Great Plan,” shared in an early presentation to staff and city council. It was the product of some hard learnings and even frustration from past exercises—perhaps it started as a little self-therapy! But we started repeating it at meeting after meeting, and it quickly became an official “magic mirror” to hold each step of our process up against. Staff even turned the 10 into a graphic for tweeting, putting them out there front and centre in the community conversation. […]