Planning Process and Principles

Deciding to Plan

The decision to plan must have a Purpose that justifies why a planning exercise should be undertaken.  It must have Targets that define what the results of a planning exercise would be.  It must have Tasks that outline how a planning exercise would be undertaken.  It must have Principles that delineate the way a planning exercise should be done.

Creating a Plan

To create a plan there must be a Purpose that clarifies why the planning exercise was done.  It must have Targets that describe what the results of the planning exercise are.  There must be Tasks that explain how the plan will proceed.  It must have Principles that prescribe the way the plan will be used.

Implementing a Plan

The implementation of a plan must have a Purpose that expresses why the plan is to be fulfilled.  It must have Targets that declare what the plan is to achieve.  It must have Tasks that state how the plan will be accomplished.  It must have Principles that interpret the way the plan will be applied.

Monitoring for Success

The evaluation of a plan must have a Purpose that reflects why the plan was fulfilled.  It must have Targets that reveal what the plan achieved.  It must have Tasks that show how the plan was accomplished.  It must have Principles that review the way the plan was applied.

Importance of Planning

In 1854, Chief Sealth is reputed to have spoken to Governor Isaac Stevens regarding the governor’s interest in the traditional territory of his people.  As a leader amongst the Suquamish and Duwamish Tribes, the chief was also the namesake of the village of Seattle in the newly formed Territory of Washington.  His words were translated through an intermediate language before being noted in English, but were concerned with the question: “How can you buy… the land?”  Though the speech was given on a public occasion, it was only published more than 30 years later.  Since then, several different transcriptions have emerged.  None-the-less, his message is one of the most explicit descriptions of traditional land-use.  His statements make specific reference to protecting the land, directly linking it to the well-being of his people and livelihood they make from that land.  In this sense, it is a clear indication of planning by custom.

By happenstance, one of the founding figures of the planning profession, Patrick Geddes, was also born in 1854.  This Scotsman was known for his intelligence and many varied interests, including sympathy for people and the environment.  As a town planner, he worked for the protection of “place”, the well-being of “folk”, and the “work” they derived from that place.  His methods are a direct parallel to those Chief Sealth elaborated in his speech and are the basis of planning by profession

But during this mid-19th century period, planning was only in its infancy.  The forces that created North America: a growing modernity and a budding capitalism, assumed that the “value” of land came from its monetary worth.  In 1849, the recently united Province of Canada passed the Baldwin Act.  It became the basis for municipal government in present day Ontario, and the structure upon which land development would rest.  Treaties with the Indigenous inhabitants of this land were increasingly interpreted as land deals, rather than the basis of sharing from its largess.

 After several centuries of land clearing, resource extraction, and city building these assimilationist approaches to land-use are no longer universally accepted.  The place in which we live, the people we are surrounded by, the efforts we make to earn a living, are now often seen as the fundamental building-blocks of community.  The observational techniques advocated by Geddes and poetically intoned by Chief Sealth are slowly coming into their own.  An increasingly globalised world cannot be sustained without the essential provisions of a functioning landscape, a healthy population, or meaningful employment.  These are the touchstones of planning.  Inevitably, economics will be understood in relation to its sister derivation, ecology.   Both will be interpreted by their root word “eco”, which comes from the Greek word for “house”.  In a phrase, planning is all about our home.  See Land Use and Economic Development: Integrating Through Planning

Planning for Place

The endeavour to plan for a place involves the proper allocation of land.  What it is attempting to do is protect the landscape, while creating the streetscape. On occasion, such targets may reveal the sacredness of the soul-scape in which we live.  But this is seldom the case. (S.C. OKs ski resort on sacred indigenous ground) The task at hand is done through analysing the land-use sectors, settlements, and transects of existing and hoped for communities.  If done well, the principles of conservation and smart growth are used to transform mere space into a genuine place.  Planning 101

Planning for People 

To plan for people means to ensure that they thrive. It is the essential purpose of planning. What it tries to do is protect well-being, create engagement, even encourage vision as explicit targets.  The mundane task of a population projection, the indexing of wellbeing, or the calculation of an ecological footprint can provide a community with vital knowledge of itself. It can become wisdom if principles such as community-development and strategic-thinking, life-long learning and the social-determinants of health are used.  Planning 101

Planning for Prosperity 

The effort to plan for prosperity means using what is available locally to enhance livelihoods within the community.  It targets the protection of opportunity, the creation of jobs, and the encouragement of innovation.  To do this, tasks such as calculating multipliers, location quotients, and shift-share analysis must be undertaken.  When a community relies on the principle of local economic development it enhances its resilience in the modern marketplace.  Planning 101

Significance of Duty to Consult and Accommodate

For Municipalities

Constitutionally, municipalities are wards of the province, creating uncertainty regarding consultation obligations.  In the court case regarding the Seaton Lands within the City of Pickering, Ontario [Hiawatha First Nation v. Ontario, (Minister of the Environment), 2007 CanLII 3485, (ON SCDC)] the duty to consult as enshrined in statutes such as the Environmental Assessment Act, the Planning Act, or the Cemeteries Act was firmly upheld.  This was in spite of the fact that the constitutional duty to consult had been set aside, due to mitigating circumstances surrounding the interpretation of the Williams Treaty, 1923.

In the case of Neskonlith Indian Band v. Salmon Arm (City), 2012 BCSC 499, it was made clear that municipalities bear “no independent constitutional duty to consult”.   Though municipalities are extensions of provincial jurisdiction, “the honour of the Crown is non-delegable and rests at all times with the province”.  However, “procedural aspects of the duty to consult can be delegated to third parties … (if) the authority… (is) expressly or impliedly conferred by statute”.  - Willms & Shier Report, 2012

None-the-less, the Resort Municipality of Whistler had the update of its Official Community Plan quashed due to a lack of consultation.  The municipality told the Lil’wat Nation and the Squamish Nation that Whistler had no obligation or ability to consider their concerns, since these were “provincial” matters.  Faced with this non-participation, the communities launched a court case against both the town and the government because the British Colombia Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved a plan which had not received sufficient consultation.  In 2014, the B.C. Supreme Court agreed.   – Archeological Services Inc., 2018

Municipalities in Ontario are now encouraged to co-ordinate their planning efforts with Aboriginal communities by the Provincial Policy Statement (2014).  This includes considering the interests of Aboriginal communities in conserving cultural, heritage, and archeological resources. It requires that implementation be consistent with Sec. 35 Constitution Act, 1982, but as one commentator has pointed out, without any legislation or regulation to provide specifics (H. Dorries, 2016).

For Commercial Interests

The Crown may be able to rely on what the industry proponent does in terms of accommodation, to fulfill, in whole or in part, the Crown's duty to consult, and where appropriate, accommodate.  However, it cannot compel private interests to consult.   - Updated Guidelines for Federal Officials to Fulfill the Duty to Consult, March 2011

None-the-less, proponents can benefit by helping indigenous communities secure their rights.  In the case of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation v. Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and T & P Hayes Ltd., 2017 there was lack of consultation for a proposed issuance of a license for a limestone quarry.  The level of participation the court required was not only formal notice and information, but also peer-review funding and accommodation of their concerns.  It is worth noting that the third-party in this instance, the quarry operator, was not obliged to accept the delegation of consultation from the government.  However, the court said that their non-participation risked delaying their own project.

Why the Duty to Consult and Accommodate is Important

Though not the first European to reach these shores, the arrival of Columbus represented a fundamental shift in the physical environments, the ways of life, and the worldviews of those already here.  The conquest that followed was marked by conflict, but there were also periods of co-operation. In what we now call Canada, both sides collaborated in trade and military alliances, religious and family ties, exploration and settlement efforts.  These relationships underlay the process of creating Treaties that were based on the principles of sharing the land and the discussion of issues of mutual interest.


Canadians are Treaty peoples.  For those indigenous to this land, using it is an inherent right.   We share this land however, by virtue of Treaties.  For the rest of us, using the land is a right born of Treaties.  Thus, planning the use of that land is derived from Treaty.  In this country, the treaty-making process was extensive.  There were the Peace and Friendship Treaties of the East coast, the Great Peace of Montreal, the pre-Confederation Treaties of Southern Ontario, accompanied by the post-Confederation Treaties, then the numbered Treaties that stretched all the way to the Western Provinces. These have been followed by modern Treaties and Agreements in British Columbia, and all across the North.


One author asserts that our constitution does not merely stem from repatriation efforts of the early 1980s, but of every Treaty signed by the Crown since contact (J.R. Saul, 2008).  One might even include every agreement and arrangement that set a moral or legal precedent.  An example from the mid-18th century is the Royal Proclamation.  Declared in the wake of the Seven Year’s War (1756 - 1763), it reorganise all of the territory Britain now possessed, after defeating virtually all French territorial claims on North America.
King George III, issued the Proclamation in 1763, in part, to stabilise Britain’s relationship with the native populations, many of whom were previously allied with France.  The next year, a large number of First Nations signed the implementing Treaty of Niagara, 1764.  Representatives from as far away as the Blackfoot territory near the foothills of the Rockies may have attended.  A vast Indian Reserve was created to the west with a line drawn along the height of land of the Appalachian Mountains to separate it from the 13 Atlantic Colonies.  It established the principle that any surrender of native land must be done to the Crown, not to private purchasers, and that non-native settlement was forbidden. In this sense, it is one of the first planning documents of this continent (C.M. Fraser, 2016).

The Proclamation is, in fact, constitutional and specifically recognised in Section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.   Though not a treaty, it is taken in some circles as a type of “Magna Carta” for indigenous peoples, and is the foundation for the ongoing relationship with the Canadian Monarchy, the legal justification for Aboriginal self-government, and the basis for land claims.

In the 1997 Delgamuukw v. British Columbia case, indigenous interest in traditional territory was legitimised, provided the community could demonstrate a substantive and ongoing relationship with that territory.  If it can, then infringement of Aboriginal title is not justified without consultation, since the “Honour of the Crown” is at stake.  The assertion of British sovereignty created “a protectorate relationship with indigenous peoples” because they were not conquered.


But the forces that created Canada, a growing modernity and a budding capitalism, slowly undermined these relationships.  The presence of indigenous peoples slowly shifted from an opportunity to learn, to a problem to be solved.  Sharing gave way to ownership; discussion gave way to control.  By the mid-19th century, these were well underway.  In 1857, the Gradual Civilisation Act was passed to enfranchise native people, but only if they gave up their Aboriginal and Treaty rights.  By 1876, the newly confederated Dominion of Canada consolidated all existing legislation regarding First Nations under the Indian Act without consulting the people whose lives and lands it now presumed to regulate.  For decades indigenous peoples were not allowed to put money towards the legal research of land issues, and lawyers were prohibited from working for communities on such cases.  The Act did protect what remained of native lands as reserves, but also reduced the status of the people to that of wards of the state. Eventually Inuit were included under the Act, but not Métis.  For more than a century the implementing assumptions of the Act have been assimilationist, including the sad legacy of the American-style residential school system.

The Future

By the late-20th century, this assimilationist approach to land-use was no longer universally accepted, as the connection to land is what kept native culture alive.  Acknowledgement of this has been slow.  In 1969, the government produced a “white paper” proposing the abolition of the Indian Act and the abrogation of all land claims.  This spurred the Indigenous Rights movement in Canada.  Official recognition finally came in Section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 which affirmed an enduring Aboriginal relationship to the land and their ongoing contribution to the building of the country.   Since then, the loss of trust and the denigration of obligation has slowly begun to be remedied, usually through the Courts.  In the 21st century the Duty to Consult and Accomodate will no longer be seen as a threat, an annoyance, nor even just a skill, but the basis of a relationship for understanding, honouring, and planning for the land we all share.