So, you think this OurWinnipeg review sounds promising, but perhaps you still don’t quite understand what it is, what it means, or why it’s important. There are a lot of plans and policies out there, but how do they fit together? Is OurWinnipeg simply a pirate’s response to the question of what major city is closest to the longitudinal centre of Canada? (response: “Arrr, Winnipeg”). Sorry, just had to give a nod to Halloween somewhere in this blog!
To fully understand what a development plan is, we must begin with its legal roots.
It is said in Canadian politics that cities are “creatures of the province”. The only powers a city has are those that were explicitly given to it through provincial law. In Winnipeg’s case, the City of Winnipeg Charter Act lays out everything the City must do (have an election every four years, for example) and is allowed to do (like operate a public transit system).
The Province of Manitoba requires the City of Winnipeg to plan for its future. Section 224 of the Charter says it must adopt a development plan to set out the City’s long-term plans and policies regarding:
- Its purposes;
- Its physical, social, environmental, and economic objectives; and
- Sustainable land uses and development.
The Charter also requires that the Winnipeg’s development to be reviewed every five years (the most recent development plan was adopted by Council in 2011 and we started this review process in 2016).
The Charter’s requirements mean that our development plan must address everything the City does, from planning and constructing new roads, to operating community centers and libraries, to economic development – at least at a high level. This is a relatively unique mandate, as development plans in most other Canadian jurisdictions address mostly land use-related issues such as the location of new housing, industry, office, and shops, or what services like roads, watermains, sewers, parks, and schools will be needed.
The City of Winnipeg’s development plan, OurWinnipeg addresses the topics noted above, but its wider scope meant that the 2011 version of the City’s development plan was approved together with a set of supporting direction strategies.
- OurWinnipeg is the central document addressing all City operations and fulfills the Charter requirement for a development plan;
- The Complete Communities Direction Strategy is the city’s long range land use and development plan, focusing on the issues most commonly addressed in development plans;
- Sustainable Water and Waste and Sustainable Transportation contain high-level policies pertaining respectively to the City’s piped servicing and transportation systems; and
- A Sustainable Winnipeg serves as the community’s integrated sustainability strategy.
Other City policy documents build upon OurWinnipeg, but this document sets our long-term direction. It is intended to inform more detailed planning on specific topics or certain areas. Everything the City does must conform to the development plan, including other high-level strategies as well as rezoning and/or subdivision applications.
Even if the Province didn’t require the City to plan, it’s still the right thing to do. Confucius said that someone “who does not think and plan long ahead will find trouble right at [their] door”. Whether it is a city, a business proposal, your family’s finances, or an upcoming vacation, there are lots of reasons why you should plan.
- Planning sets a direction and priorities – it helps everyone know what they should be working on in building towards a shared goal, contributing to a more efficient use of resources. Priorities make it easier to say “no” to distracting initiatives.
- Planning helps assess risks and opportunities – putting in work at the beginning of a project helps identify risks and how to proactively respond to them.
- A good plan is like a map – it should provide benchmarks to see how far you’ve progressed towards your goal and how far you are from your destination.
Join us as we review OurWinnipeg – the city you want starts with a conversation.