The Planning Enterprise

AuthorHoward Epstein
Organized land-use planning (LUP) emerged only within the last 100
to 125 years.1 The modern landmarks often noted are the adoption by
New York City of a comprehensive zoning code in 1916,2 the drafting
in 1928 of model statutes (the Standard City Planning Enabli ng Act and
the Standard State Zoni ng Enabling Act developed by the US federal
government) to establish a framework for municipal regulation of land
use involving the adoption of an off‌icial plan to accompany and g uide
zoning by-laws, and the regime put in place in the United K ingdom
through the Housing, Town Planning etc. Act of 1909 (followed by the
Town and Country Planning Acts of 1947 and 1990). In Canada, organ-
ized LUP emerged at the end of the nineteenth centur y, with the earli-
est planning statutes being adopted in 1912 in New Brunswick, Nova
Scotia, a nd Ontario.3
1 Attempts at plan ning in some limited ways a re ancient. To some extent they
character ized all cities from t heir very start. See Peter H all, Cities in Civilizati on
(London: Phoenix Giant , 1998).
2 It is also the c ase that in Germany, “zoning combi ning both use and height
restrict ions” had emerged in the 1880s; see Peter Moore, “Zon ing and Planning:
The Toronto Experience, 1904 –1970” in Ala n FJ Artibise & Gilbert A Ste lter,
The Usable Urban Past (Toronto: Macmilla n, 1979) 316.
3 David H Sherwood, “Ca nadian Institute of Pla nners” Plan Canada (July 1994) at
20; Jeanne M Wolfe, “Our Common Pa st: An Interpretation of Can adian Planni ng
At the same time, it should be recognized t hat nuisances had been
addressed by var ious statutes for centuries prior to that. Activ ities that
produced objection able odours, such as slaught erhouses, tanner ies, and
sewers, were regulated in lim ited ways. Early statutes required land-
owners to cut down high hedges along roadways where highway men
might hide to rob passersby. Fires in seventeeth-centur y London and
the spread of disease in compact communities led to versions of build-
ing codes. Nineteenth-century public health acts required minimum
street widths to help control ty phoid and cholera epidemics and to a llow
access by municipal service vehicles. In the United States, rule s going
back to colonial times regu lated the location of gunpowder manufacture
and storage, and slaughterhouses. Early special statutes addressed the
concerns of public health, safety, and welfare. What has been a feature
of this past centur y has been organized LUP as a common statute-based
context for determining what is or is not permitted by way of land use,
its evolution into a sophisticated system, a serious emphasis on plan-
ning being in the hands of municipal governments, and the emergence
of a designated profession to lead the activity.
The existence of a regulated plann ing profe ssion has not meant that
there is clarit y about the parameters of the undertaking. While, as a
matter of process, planning i s inherently a public exercise, and as a
matter of objectives, it has regularly addressed sustain ability, the na-
ture of what ought to be studied is not completely clear. Certainly, there
is abundant criticism of the results of planning. Sti ll, it is a profession
for which statements of values and standard s of conduct exist. Indeed,
violation of standards or other er rors may lead to some form of legal
liability. Even more than some other professions, planners are ex pected
to be able to analyze, wr ite about, and spe ak to their concerns and to be
a part of formal legal process es.
In order to survey land-use plan ning as an enterpri se, we will look at
some of the comments of leading Canad ian and international pla nners,
academics, and the professional bod ies representing planners.
History ” Plan Canada ( July 1994); Harold D K alman, A History of Canadia n
Architec ture (Toronto: Oxford University P ress, 1994) ch 12.
4 For a good selection of art icles on various aspect s of planning, see Edward El-
gar’s Classics in Planning multi-volume series, e specially Hugo Priemus, Ken neth
Button, & Peter Nijkamp, eds, Lan d Use Pla nning (Northampton, MA: Edw ard
Elgar, 2007), and Tüzin Bayca n et al, eds, Urban Planning (Northampton, MA:
The Planning Ente rprise 37
Planning is ty pically referred to as an attempt, based on studies and
on public consultation, to achieve a rational agenda for a community.
On the other hand, those host ile to the enterprise suggest that plan-
ning “def‌ined broadly [is] government intervention.”5 The Canadian
Institute of Planners (CIP) def‌ines planning as “the scientif‌ic, aesthetic,
and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities and serv ices with
a view to securing t he physical, economic and social eff‌iciency, health
and well-being of urban and rur al communities.”6 This offering is in
line with the str uggle to def‌ine the planning enter prise that is com-
mon in planning text s. Two text s that are commonly used in Can adian
university LUP programmes are Hodge and Gordon, Planning Can-
adian Communities, and Hok-Lin Leung, Land Use Planning Made Plain.7
Hodge says that the two principal reasons a community “is st imulated
to undertake community planning [are a] . . . wish to solve some prob-
lems associated w ith its development; and/or to achieve some preferred
form of development.”8 In either case, he says, planning involves both
the built and natural env ironment. A community plan should promote
economic growth and eff‌iciency, environmental protection, and socia l
justice and equity, all linked.9 Leung emphasizes the public interest.
“Typically, land use decisions are about the type, amount and location of
uses of land. That is, ‘Wh at?’, ‘How much?’ and ‘Where?’”10 He t hen lists
a variety of “public interest elements” in planning: health and safety,
convenience, eff‌iciency, equity, environment and energy, visual amen-
ity, economic matters, herit age conser vation, transpor tation, physical
infrastr ucture, and affordable housing. Hodge says “Over the course of
Canadian planning, a number of issues have been t ransformed and be-
come more complex, but none more so than environmental protection.
The longstanding planning t raditions of conservation, park plan ning,
and open-space preservation began to give way . . . to concerns over
ecosystems and biodiversity.11
Edward Elgar, 2008). See als o Charles Hoch, What Planners Do: Power, Politics
and Persuasion (Chic ago: Planners Press, 1994).
5 Bishwapriya Sany al, “Planning’s Three Chal lenges” in Lloyd Rodwin & Bish-
wapriya Sanya l, eds, The Profession of City Planning (New Brunsw ick, NJ: Centre
for Urban Policy Rese arch, Rutgers University Pre ss, 2000) 312 at 327.
6 “What Is Plann ing,” onl ine: www.cip-icu .ca/B ecoming- a-Planne r.
7 Gerald Hodge & David L A Gordon, Planning Canadian Communities, 5th e d (To-
ronto: Thomson Nelson, 200 8); Hok-Lin Leun g, Land Use Planning Made Plain,
2d ed (Toronto: University of Toronto Pres s, 2003).
8 Hodge & Gordon, above note 7 at 5.
9 Ibid at 385.
10 Leung, above note 7 at 2.
11 Ibid at 3 84.

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