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WHEREAS land use planning is a fundamental municipal activity of all communities in Alberta; and
WHEREAS all municipalities in Alberta utilize the skills, expertise, and experiences of trained and qualified land use planners; and
WHEREAS there are currently no universities in Alberta with an accredited land use planning program producing the trained and qualified land use planners required by municipalities; and
WHEREAS the current and expected need for educated and trained land use planners at both the municipal and provincial levels has never been higher;
WHEREAS the University of Alberta is prepared to establish an Accredited Undergraduate and Graduate degree program in Land Use Planning, commencing in the Fall of 2011, that will help to alleviate the issues around the availability of Development and Planning staff;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties encourages the Government of Alberta to:
1. Assist one or more universities in Alberta in creating and operating an accredited planning program; and further,
2. Allocate funding to implement and operate an accredited planning program at one or more universities in Alberta.
Every municipality in Alberta employs directly as employees, or indirectly through consultants, the skills and expertise of trained and qualified land use planners. Some municipalities do both at the same time. Similarly, the Government of Alberta also employs directly or indirectly planners in many areas.
The current and future demand for planners is very high. Even in present economic circumstances, the municipal and provincial demand is high but the local supply is low. Currently, employers fill vacant positions by poaching planners from other municipalities. While some demand can be (and is) filled by poaching, a number of employers, both public and private, have filled vacancies through overseas recruitment. Some municipalities have hired planners from Ireland, South Africa, and India.
Yet, while the demand for planners is high, there are no Alberta based universities creating a locally trained and educated supply of planners. No university in Alberta has an accredited land use planning program designed and operating to produce graduates with the education, skills, and expertise in this important profession. The nearest such universities are in Saskatchewan or British Columbia.
While recruiting from afar may be an answer, there is a need for having planners provincially trained and educated. Being educated and trained within the Alberta milieu assist greatly in understanding and working within Alberta’s political, municipal, development, and land use history.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Advanced Education and Technology:
Advanced Education and Technology (AET) appreciates the important role of professional planners in the development of Alberta’s urban and rural communities and also understands that the wind up of the University of Calgary’s Master of Environmental Design (Planning) program has left Alberta without a professional degree program accredited by the Canadian Institute of Planners.
AET officials will be meeting with the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties to discuss the context and intent behind its recent resolution. The discussion will provide valued input to the ministry’s review of proposals for new planning degree programs received from our post-secondary institutions. Although the current fiscal realities may preclude the ministry from funding new degree initiatives, AET is open to working with post-secondary institutions to develop alternative funding arrangements to support the implementation of new planning degrees.
In 2012, the University of Alberta began offering a bachelor of arts major and bachelor of science specialization in community planning. The community planning program is aimed at addressing the current shortage of professional planners in Alberta where the scarcity of planners can hinder development and result in projects that fail to achieve their full potential to improve the quality of life for Albertans. The Alberta Professional Planning Institute applauds the university’s efforts to identify the need and work with the provincial government to see the needed approvals to move ahead with an accredited planner program in Alberta. As such, the AAMDC believes the intent of this resolution has been met.