Has your urban planning profession made you boring?

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Urban planning can be an exciting and rewarding profession. It can also be extremely political and sometime downright boring.

Urban planning can be an exciting and rewarding profession. It can also be extremely political and sometime downright boring.

Urban planning can be an exciting and rewarding profession. It can also be extremely political and sometime downright boring. You sit there, review requests for development applications, subdivision requests, zoning amendments, variances, and general plan amendments. You look at the intent and you look for compliance and consistency. Compliance and consistency. Order and geometry. Physical, social, economic and cultural impacts, which no one can ever predict.

Instead of coming up with fresh creative ideas, dig deep and look for ways to adapt to changing environmental, social and economic conditions, planners continue to create cities with pedestrians segregated from cars, low density neighbourhoods with large footprint totally dependant on the automobile. Why? Because that is what people want and that is what council wants: safe and orderly cities. We want things to remain the same.

Nevertheless, there are ways to keep your job as an urban planner interesting. When executed well, urban planning takes care of the people living in the urban communities being planned. Good planning is a dynamic process that involves planners, citizens, businesses, and community leaders, with the aim of creating cities that is vibrant. An orderly city and a consistent city is not a vibrant city.

Traditionally, planners have relied on basic geometry when determining how to lay out neighbourhoods and districts. While this can make it easy to pinpoint a particular place on the map, orderly, linear cities lack creativity. Naturally, building a city is going to require some degree of geometric prowess when it comes to urban planning techniques, but it’s okay for planners to get creative and disorderly. In fact, you should. For example, fold business districts into the hubs of neighbourhoods, giving residents places close by to work and narrowing the commute window. ….

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