World Town Planning Day: Celebrating Professional Planners and Recognizing the Importance of Placemaking
The birth of Urban Planning
Urban planning is an integral part of mankind’s past and future. The first recognized version of town planning traces to the Roman period, with Greek philosopher Hippodamus being recognized by Aristotle as “the father of city planning.” Modern day urban planning emerged as a profession in the early 20th century in response to the deteriorating conditions caused by the rapid growth of industrial cities. Planners collaborated with experts across a variety of disciplines to understand the complexities of urban growth and develop effective methods of managing cities to promote the welfare of people.
While planning as a profession was originally created out of necessity, it is now used to enhance the lived experiences of those who inhabit urban areas and to create solutions that are socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Planning practices are dynamic and ever-changing, varying significantly from city to city. People travel across oceans to experience the unique qualities offered by different cities. Urban planning has allowed for the creation of unique, one-of-a-kind cities such as New York, Tokyo, Montréal, and Los Angeles, that carry a distinctive character that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The development of urban areas is influenced by culture, politics, religion, tradition, and history. Planners are responsible for taking in all this information to create urban solutions that fit a community’s social, economic, and environmental needs.
Out with the old, in with the new
Over the last decade, the themes and objectives of modern planning have seen a significant shift, with more emphasis being placed on environmental sustainability and climate change resilience. Planning trends that have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years include bike-friendly cities, green infrastructure, urban agriculture, and renewable energy. Hatch recognizes the need for more green solutions and has been quick to adapt to meet the needs of our clients, providing unprecedented outcomes and setting the standard for positive change. We do this by thinking globally and planning locally, placing an emphasis on inclusiveness and collaboration to ensure that all voices are heard.
An example of a city that has demonstrated exceptional sustainable innovation is Singapore, where two-thirds of the hard surfaces (e.g., roofs, sidewalks) capture rainwater to be deposited into reservoirs to satisfy the needs of the greater community. Due to this advancement Singapore, which used to import a majority of its water from Malaysia, is now self-sufficient — a prime example of how urban planning can help solve complex problems.
The way we perceive our cities has also changed significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic. While pandemics have a long history of disrupting and altering life in cities, they have also been catalysts for important urban improvements such as sewage management and indoor ventilation. The response to COVID-19 largely revolved around human behavior and the critical importance of community. Speaking from personal experience, being isolated from friends and family for a prolonged period made me re-evaluate my priorities and led me to understanding the importance of creating spaces that nurture close-knit communities and promote connections with those around us. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed how you choose to live your life? How can Planners use this information to guide the future growth of urban communities?
The way forward: deconstructing colonialism through planning
Historically, the needs of Indigenous peoples and their systems of law and governance have been largely dismissed, especially when it comes to the planning and development of cities. It is not a secret that Western-based planning has strong roots in colonialism, and that its objectives have largely sustained colonial intentions. As more Indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas, the inherent marginalization that is embedded in the creation of cities has become apparent. To rectify the inequity in our cities and to work toward urban land justice, it is incumbent upon Planners to be proactive in ensuring that Indigenous peoples not only feel welcome, but that their concerns and needs are addressed in a meaningful way.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge comes from Indigenous Peoples’ close relationship and connection with the land, representing a more holistic view of the ecosystem. Western planning often places emphasis on land “use” and “growth.” However, many Planners today recognize the importance of “Two-Eyed Seeing” in the creation of spaces. Two-Eyed Seeing is a concept taught by Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall. It is described as “learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledge and ways of knowing… and learning to use both these eyes together, for the benefit of all.” (Barlett, Marshall & Marshall, 2012).
At Hatch, we acknowledge that the involvement of Indigenous communities in all areas of planning is of critical importance, and we continue to grow our team to empower more Indigenous voices to ensure that our work is leading to a more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable future. Hatch understands that there is an opportunity for modern-day Planners to work alongside Indigenous peoples to deconstruct colonialism and pave a new path forward with the overarching intention of reconciliation lighting the way.
Aristotle (1905). Aristotle’s Politics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905.
Bartlett C., Marshall M., Marshall A. (2012). Two-eyed seeing and other lessons learned within a co-learning journey of bringing together indigenous and mainstream knowledges and ways of knowing. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 2, 331–340.
Gooden, B. (2019). Six International Cities with Outstanding Green Infrastructure (Citygreen.com). Available online at: citygreen.com
McGill University. (2022). About urban planning. McGill University, School of Urban Planning. Available online at: McGill.ca
Ontario Professional Planners Institute. (2019). Indigenous Perspectives in Planning. Report of the Indigenous Planning Perspectives Task Force. Available online at: ontarioplanners.ca
Environmental Planner, Environment & Sustainability
Carling is an Environmental Planner at Hatch’s Niagara Falls office. She graduated from Trent University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies before attending Fleming College’s Environmental Planning post-graduate program. Carling has contributed to a variety of federal and provincial environmental assessments, and regularly helps clients better-understand the environmental and regulatory considerations that go into developing new infrastructure in Canada. In her career at Hatch, Carling has developed a new-found passion for renewable power, specifically hydropower. Carling’s overarching goal is to contribute to the growth of sustainable communities across Canada.