Keys to Urban Planning

Good judgment and public engagement top the list.

The new head of urban growth and change at University of Calgary shares his keys to managing growth and smart urban development.

Greg Morrow was recently appointed as the Richard Parker Professor in Metropolitan Growth and Change at the University of Calgary. With two architecture degrees, a masters degree in urban design and a PhD in urban planning, Dr. Greg Morrow brings years of careful study and experience to the new position.

The Calgary Herald recently talked to Greg about the challenges and opportunities facing Calgary as the city continues to evolve and change. He spoke specifically about the need to increase flexibility in planning and policy as well as using public engagement to reduce NIMBYism.

“I think I depart from most planners when I say the path to good planning lies more in good negotiation and judgment than in more regulations and rules. We should not be slaves to process, policy and technical details…I think we’re also too prescriptive in our land use bylaw; we need a simpler, more flexible bylaw with more emphasis on being outcome-oriented.”

- White, "Prof sees negotiation, judgment paving path to good urban planning", Calgary Herald, October 14, 2016

 

Greg explains the need for clear objectives in urban planning vs. strict adherence to policy, authority and bureaucracy. By developing more flexible governance models, all stakeholders have an opportunity to test out new and better ways to create communities.   

Discussions about increasing development flexibility aren’t complete without talking about NIMBYism. The “Not In My Back Yard” attitude is an ever-present challenge in community development and planning. In fact, recent studies suggest NIMBYism costs the American economy billions of dollars a year. Greg adds:

“NIMBYism is a symptom of a disconnect between City policy and what people personally know and value… We need a stronger commitment to genuine civic engagement and collaboration as opposed to token open houses held after decisions have already been made. This will build trust and understanding between communities, City administration and the development industry.”

- White, "Prof sees negotiation, judgment paving path to good urban planning", Calgary Herald, October 14, 2016

Here in Calgary, The City’s Engage policy helps residents offer input at the right time in order to have the most impact. And developers are finding more and more effective ways to bring Calgarians into the conversation to have their voices heard, such as the public engagement for University District.

As well, to address any City policies that may be slowing innovation or adding too much cost, The City of Calgary is collaborating with industry on an official Work Plan to review policies.

For more on the benefits of redevelopment and how we can combat and even change attitudes from “no” to “yes”, see our video From NIMBY to YIMBY.

Aside from public negotiation and flexible planning, Greg also talks about urban design topics that are currently relevant in Calgary including: the battle over secondary suites, what developers can do differently, and what can be learned from successful projects in other cities.

Read the full interview at the Calgary Herald.

Published
November 16th, 2016
Updated: September 14th, 2017


NIMBYism is a symptom of a disconnect between City policy and what people personally know and value.


Conversations