Fonds - City Planning Department fonds

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City Planning Department fonds

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  • 1890-1998, predominant 1953-1990 (Creation)
    Vancouver (B.C.). Planning Dept.

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21.42 m of textual records and other material

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The Planning Department was established on November 1, 1952 with the appointment of the Director of Planning, further to the July 1951 report commissioned by City Council from town planning consultants Harold Spence-Sales and John Bland (PD 335). The report had proposed that the Vancouver Town Planning Commission hand over the work intensive and detailed aspects of planning but maintain the advisory role to City Council (renamed Vancouver City Planning Commission in 1972). Those aspects were taken on by the new Planning Department, while the more substantial Zoning By-law interpretation and exception decision-making, as well as the broader aspects of city planning were carried out by a committee of relevant senior staff and officials, which was called the Technical Planning Board. Although functioning by early 1953, the Technical Planning Board was formally established on November 15, 1954 (by-law no. 3497). The Director of Planning served as its chair, and membership included the City Engineer, the Corporation Counsel, the City Comptroller, the Supervisor of Lands and Rentals, the Medical Health Officer, the Superintendent of Schools, the Superintendent of Parks, and the Chief Building Inspector. Its initial functions were: to prepare a development plan for City Council; to advise Council on city planning matters; to advise Council on amendments to the Zoning By-law; to carry out surveys and analyses relating to planning and zoning; to prepare city plans. The specific powers of the Board were to be: to issue development permits according to the Zoning By-law and to authorize exceptions thereto as deemed reasonable (according to by-law no. 3497, section 4b). The Technical Planning Board was to provide for coordination between all units of the civic administration concerned with the city's physical development, while the Director of Planning was to play a leadership role, to be exercised with flexibility according to the developing needs and processes. By 1961 the Director of Planning, as its chair, had effectively taken over all authority on these matters (124-A-3 file 14), continuing to consult with other City officials, as appropriate. The Technical Planning Board was dissolved 17 Dec. 1974 (by-law no. 4836), and the Development Permit Board and Advisory Panel was officially established 24 June 1975 (by-law no. 4876, the DPB was smaller, with the Director of Planning as chair, and the Director of Social Planning and the City Engineer completing it). Zoning interpretation decisions of any City body or office could be appealed to the Zoning Board of Appeal (the Board had begun ruling on zoning exceptions from the passing of the first Zoning By-law, in 1927). The following is an outline of planning functions carried out over time. Except where noted a function was carried out by the Town Planning Commission 1926-1952 (with support from the Engineering Department), then by Planning Department divisions whose names and scope of responsibilities shifted frequently, primarily with the major reorganizations of 1964, 1973, 1977 and 1995. For more detail on functional development please refer to the inventory for the Planning Department fonds. (1) City planning. From its beginnings as the Vancouver Town Planning Commission's function (by-law no. 1771, 1926) of "town planning" or "city planning" has related to planning and controlling the physical development of the city. The more specific meaning of city planning relates to ongoing processes of preparing published city plans (according to the methods of the day). Some of the narrower aspects of city planning over the years have been: (a) downtown business district planning (the downtown area has been called the Downtown Business District, the Central Area, and the Core Area); (b) heritage conservation - the preservation of historic buildings and other designed aspects of Vancouver was assumed as a new function by the Planning Department in 1973; (c) neighbourhood planning (neighbourhood planning has also been called local area planning and community planning) - was carried out by the Engineering Department 1926-1952 (with the exception of the Shaughnessy area, which was assigned to the Town Planning Commission), then by the Planning Department; and (d) planning research - relates to gathering economic, physical and social data for the purposes of decision making. (2) Residential rehabilitation programs administration. New function assumed by the Planning Department's Housing and Development Branch in 1964; discontinued in the 1980s. (3) Traffic planning. Moved in 1952 from the Town Planning Commission to the Planning Department's Highway Traffic and Design Branch. Function transferred to Engineering Department in the early 1980s. (4) Urban design advisory. Provided in the early years by the Town Planning Commission, then by the Planning Department, and in more recent years, by the Urban Design Panel subunit of the Development Permit Advisory Board. (5) Zoning designation and regulation advisory. Relates to the administration and review of proposed land use and development, particularly with respect to areas allowing more than 1 or 2 family dwellings. The basis for the authority of zoning regulation is the frequently amended Zoning and Development By-law no. 3575 (17 May 1956), which was preceded by the Zoning By-law (first passed 5 Feb. 1927, no. 1830). Previous to the establishment of the Planning Department in 1952 the Town Planning Commission was responsible for city planning (1926-1952). The earliest town planning or city planning activity was carried out under the authority of City Council, in conjunction with the Board of Works, and the Engineering Department (1886-1926). The Planning Department reported to City Council's Planning and Steering Committee 1952-1956, then to the Board of Administration, 1956-1974, which changed to the Office of the City Manager, 1974-1995. As of the 1995 reorganization it has been reporting to the General Manager of Community Services, 1995- . The Planning Department underwent major reorganizations in 1964, 1973, 1977, and 1995, according to developments in city planning practice. After the 1995 reorganization the following divisions, of widely varying scope and size, were created: Director's Office (including Heritage), Central Area Planning, City Plans, Community Planning, Land Use and Development, Planning Resources, and Research and Policy Studies. The following individuals have served as City Planner: G. Sutton Brown, 1952-1959; G. F. Fountain, 1960-1962; W. E. Graham, 1962-1972; R. J. Spaxman, 1973-1990; Tom Fletcher, 1990-1995. As of the 1995 City-wide reorganization the Planning Department has been managed by a team of co-directors.

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Fonds consists of a wide variety of records relating to particular development cases (in the Director's files, to 1969 only), to subdivision and strata title conversion proposals (to 1990, microfiche copies only), and to all manner of planning activities, including photo documentation for heritage surveys, aerial survey photograph contracting for planning purposes, etc. (Both the city plans preparation and the zoning functions are best documented within the City Council and Office of the City Clerk fonds.) Arranged into the following record series, including those of the Director of Planning: Vancouver (B.C.). City Planning Commission - Minutes and other records, 1952-1971, series 623. Vancouver (B.C.). Planning Department - Aerial survey paper prints and cronaflex positives, 1962-1989, series 135; Aerial survey photographs, 1950-1989, series 136; Data project printouts, 1974-1986, series 500; Departmental slide file photographs, 1960-1980, series 511; Director's Civic Design Panel minutes, 1963-1969, series 650; Director's Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board files, 1953-1969, series 134; Director's general files, 1931-1981, series 648; Downtown and West End building facades inventory photographs, 1974, series 509; Downtown and West End buildings inventory photographs, 1981, series 510; Film collection, ca. 1950-1968, series 627; Gastown (area 32) reconstruction photographs, 1974, series 584; Heritage evaluation forms : deletions from register, 1984-1985, series 641; Heritage inventory 1986 : evaluation forms, 1984-1985, series 640; Heritage inventory 1986 : photograph surveys, 1985-1986, series 639; Heritage inventory photographs, 1964, 1967-1977, series 644; Heritage Planner's demolished sites files, 1890-1996, series 642; Heritage Planner's photographs, 1939-1974, series 585; Maps, plans and drawings, 1925-1989, series 445; Miscellaneous records, 1963-1991, series 138; Photographs, ca. 1900-1991, series 137; Publications in City Publications Collection, 1954-1998, series 583; South Shaughnessy houses - data forms and photographs, 1990-1992, series 536; Strata title conversion files, 1973-1991, series 504; Subdivision files, 1931-1991, series 499.

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Series descriptions and file lists available. Online Finding Aid

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BCAUL control number: CVAN-615

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