Omnibus: Becoming a Good Sustainability Planning Practitioner

20th September 2010

Session 1: 1.30 - 3.00

Introduction to Profession


In the first half of today's class we will discuss what it is to be a professional and what is involved in becoming a member of one of the planning or associated professional organizations. While doing the readings think about your responses to the questions on the agenda in preparation for the discussions in class.

Many planning practitioners think of themselves as professionals and many of them choose to become members of mainstream planning organizations such as PIBC and CIP in Canada, AICP in the US and RTPI in the UK. While you are not required by law to be a member of a recognized planning organization to practice planning in British Columbia, this is not the case in all jurisdictions. None-the-less some job advertisements in this province will indicate "PIBC Membership or eligibility for Membership preferred."

The first reading for today by Howard Gardner is intended to stimulate your thinking about what is involved in becoming a "good" professional. Read his two chapters first so that you can think about his conclusions and recommendations for being a "responsible" practitioner when you are reviewing the information about the requirements for becoming a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Code of Practice and Statement of Values to which members are required to adhere. Take a look at the information on applying for membership in the Planning Institute of British Columbia to understand what is required for joining the Affiliate Organization that is your most immediate opportunity to become a Student Member, and thus a member of CIP. Links are provided for you to review comparable information for AICP and RTPI.

Take a look at the results from the recent PIBC survey of its members to learn more about whom they are, where they work, how much they earn etc.

Not all planning practitioners join one of the mainstream planning practitioners organizations. There is no data that I have seen on who they are and why they do not choose to join. In some cases they may join one or more other planning organizations, whose goals and programs more closely match their interests. A good example is the Planners Network that operates in North America and other parts of the world; take a quick look at its Statement of Principles, which focus on "progressive planning". Another is the Congress of New Urbanism.

Complicating the situation is the fact that some people practicing planning may be members of closely associated professional organizations such as the landscape architects, architects, engineers, foresters, biologists, economists etc. Links to some of those organizations in BC are provided if you are interested in learning more about how they are constituted and operate.

As in all professional organizations, one of its key roles is in establishing competency requirements for membership and requiring members to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) as a condition of remaining in good standing. PIBC was a leader in developing and adopting CPD requirements and programs that are now being advanced across all the Canadian provincial Affilitate organizations by CIP.

The professional organizations also have a key role in accrediting undergraduate and graduate programs in planning so as to ensure their content meets their competency requirements for members. SCARP is one of 14 masters programs accredited by CIP in Canada (in addition there are 9 accredited undergraduate programs) and one of only 2 Canadian programs (the other being Universite de Montreal) also accredited by the US Planning Accreditation Board (PAB). Links are provided below to the accreditation programs of CIP, PAB and RTPI for your information. The School has just successfully gone through its 5-year re-accreditiation reviews with site visits from a panel of practitioners and academics involved in the CIP and PAB accreditation programs respectively. The results of the previous reviews of SCARP's masters program are available to you.

In preparation for the session please reflect on the implications of the readings for the questions listed on the Agenda; these will be focal points for our discussion. Bring a list of questions about the planning organizations that you would like to raise and we will put these on the agenda.



Gardner, H. (Ed.) 2007. Responsibility at Work: How Leading Professionals Act (or Don't Act) Responsibly. (pp.i-18, 332-335). Omnibus Materials.


Becoming a Member

Benefits of Membership

Code of Practice

International Membership Enquiries

Membership Fees

National Membership Criteria

Statement of Values

Student Zone

For information on applying for PIBC/CIP membership through PIBC

PIBC Membership Survey 2007

CIP Planning for the Future Project 2010

APA/AICP (for comparison)

AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

RTPI (for comparison)

Professional Conduct

Planners Network: The Organization of Progressive Planning (for comparison)

Statement of Principles

Congress of New Urbanism (for comparison)

Becoming a member

Associated professional organizations in B.C. (for comparison)

Licence practitioners

Architectural Institute of B.C.

B.C. Association of Landscape Architects

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C.

Association of B.C. Forest Professionals

Association of Professional Biologists of B.C.

Law Society of British Columbia

College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C.

B.C. College of Teachers

Real Estate Council of B.C.

Support but do not licence practitioners (as PIBC/CIP)

Association of Professional Economists of B.C.

B.C. Association of Social Workers

Urban Development Institute

US Planning Accreditation Board (AICP/ACSP)

Royal Town Planning Institute - Accreditation

Canadian Institute of Planners - Reforms of Competencies, Ethics, Certification and Accreditation


1. Are planners professionals? At your table discuss (i) the defining characteristics of being a professional and (ii) to what extent planners have these characteristics. After 15 minutes your table will be asked to quickly summarize its conclusions.

2. Why might you want to join one of the planning organizations?

3. What are the challenges and opportunities facing planning organizations?

4. What questions do you have about becoming a member of one of the planning organizations?