The Vancouver Achievement
480 pages, 6 x 9
129 b&w illustrations and photos, 5 maps
Release Date:01 Jan 2004

The Vancouver Achievement

Urban Planning and Design

UBC Press

This book examines the development of Vancouver’s unique approach to zoning, planning, and urban design from its inception in the early 1970s to its maturity in the management of urban change at the beginning of the twenty-first century. By the late 1990s, Vancouver had established a reputation in North America for its planning achievement, especially for its creation of a participative, responsive, and design-led approach to urban regeneration and redevelopment. This system has other important features: an innovative approach to megaproject planning, a system of cost and amenity levies on major schemes, a participative CityPlan process to underpin active neighbourhood planning, and a sophisticated panoply of design guidelines. These systems, processes, and their achievements place Vancouver at the forefront of international planning practice.

The Vancouver Achievement explains the evolution and evaluates the outcomes of Vancouver’s unique system of discretionary zoning. The introductory chapters set the context for the study: they cover the invention and refinement of this system in the reform movement, its development of policies, guidelines, and control processes, and its translation into official development plans and neighbourhood design in the 1970s. Subsequent chapters focus upon the downtown, waterfront megaprojects, single-family neighbourhoods, the city-wide strategic planning programme (CityPlan), pressures for reform of control processes, and current downtown and inner city developments, especially issues of affordable housing, social exclusion, and multiple deprivation. The concluding chapter summarizes The Vancouver Achievement, explains the keys to its success, and evaluates its design success against internationally accepted criteria.

Heavily illustrated with over 160 photos and figures, this book – the first comprehensive account of contemporary planning and urban design practice in any Canadian city – will appeal to academic and professional audiences, as well as the general public


  • 2004, Commended - Vancouver Book Award, City of Vancouver
  • 1994, Commended - Vancouver Heitage Award, City of Vancouver
The Vancouver Achievement represents the most substantial evaluation to date on the role of planning and local policy concerning the reformation of land use and landscapes in Vancouver, including treatments of the planning record in suburban as well as in central city settings ... The Vancouver Achievement, in the comprehensiveness and depth of its analysis, supported by an extensive fieldwork program entailing interviews and documentary review, is itself a considerable achievement. Tom Hutton, BC Studies, Spring 2005
The Vancouver Achievement is a solid book, promising a long shelf life for anyone wishing to learn about the history of planning and architecture in British Columbia. Jill Wade, Canadian Literature 184, Spring 2005
Admirably organized and readable. New Urban News
Recognizing that urbanists all over North America and even further afield have started to identify Vancouver as a model city for the future and have attributed this in part to the sustained planning efforts of the local government, this book could become a seminal guide to ongoing study and evaluation of the city. Larry Beasley, Co-Director, Planning, City of Vancouver, and Adjunct Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC
John Punter is a professor of urban design in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cardiff University, Wales.


Introduction: Urban Design as Public Policy in North America

1 Introducing Vancouver

Part 1: Setting a New Planning Agenda

2 TEAM and the Reform of Planning, 1972-80

3 Creating a Livable Central Area, 1975-91

Part 2: Designing Neighbourhoods

4 Single-Family Neighbourhoods, 1980-2000

5 CityPlan, 1992-2000 6. Megaprojects on the Waterfront, 1987-2000

7 Downtown Vancouver, 1991-2000

Part 3: Regulating Development and Improving Design

8 Reforming Permit Processing and Development Levies, 1980-2000

9 Discretionary Control and Design Quality, 1997-2000

10 Conclusion: Assessing Vancouver’s Achievement Postscript


1 Awards for planning and design in Vancouver

2 Chronology of key planning initiatives, policy documents, government policies, and politics in the City of Vancouver, 1965-2001

3 Organization charts for the city planning function, 1975-2001






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