CITB01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: City Beautiful Movement, New Urbanism, Practical Ethics
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A Reader in Canadian Planning (pp. 75-106): Ethics and Values in Planning
Understanding Ethics and Values (Jill Grant)
o The early years of Plan Canada contain relatively little discussion of ethics, as planners
operated according to the principles of the rational (modernist) paradigm.
▪ By the 1960s, though, debates about proper behaviour for planners began appearing.
▪ In the 1980s, ethics became a major concern in the profession, as it continued to be in
▪ Ethics offers guidance for action; the dictionary defined ethics as a system of moral
principles that help us understand right and wrong.
▪ Planning ethics involves a code of values and conduct to inform and guide
▪ Professional bodies representing planners have adopted and refined such codes to
reflect national and international concerns.
▪ The Canadian Institute of Planners revised its code in 2004, adding several clauses to
its earlier version and adjusting the wording to update the statement of values and its
code of professional practice.
o The interest in ethics has not resolved debates about what the planner should do.
▪ Advocacy planning put the client's interests and values forward, challenging the idea
that planners can define a single public interest.
▪ Radical and equity planning advance the interest of the most disadvantaged.
▪ New Urbanism praises the values of beauty and order in the city.
o Planners face an array of choices in ethical positions to take and values to promote.
▪ Values are things that matter most to people.
▪ They reflect core beliefs and understandings about the way the world works and what
is important in it.
▪ In any society, values that affect planning may differ between individuals, yet we see
evidence that particular values permeate a culture and are reflected in landscapes and
o Through the decades, some values have remained central to Canadian planning.
▪ Efficiency and health are clearly core planning values: They give a public purpose to
planning and are common in mainstream theories and in Canadian practice.
▪ Other values may be important at times and neglected at others.
• Here we might cite amenity and equity: Some planning theories and
practitioners advocate these values, while others minimize them.
• Amenity had high priority in the City Beautiful movement of the early twentieth
century and does once again in the New Urbanism paradigm that is influencing
• Equity is a key value in radical and equity planning, but it has had little impact
on planning practice in Canada.
o Others values included in the many that guide planning in our society include scientific
values such as rationality, objectivity, and quantification; social values around such themes
as family, privacy, individualism, and cooperation may affect the processes we use and the
decisions we make about residential landscapes; political values such as democracy, order,
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and freedom affect decision-making processes; economic values such as prosperity,
competition, and thrift play a key role in debates about growth and choices about
investments; religious values such as obedience, charity, and humility may affect the way
people think about their communities and their approach to government; aesthetic values
such as beauty, convenience, and harmony influence the way we envision the city and our
own place in it.
▪ As we can see, some of these values have a significant impact on townscapes and
• For example, suburban landscapes reflect values attached to family, privacy,
individualism, and nature.
• Urban-core townscapes may reflect values associated with affluence,
competition, technology, and convenience: the values of capitalism.
o Values inform the goals we set.
▪ Community goal setting involves a participatory process, whereby community
residents offer their input into the goals that will direct choices for the future.
▪ Goal setting requires a level of consensus building.
▪ Consensus is generally fairly easy to achieve when people share values.
▪ As any negotiator will admit, however, when people have divergent values, they
cannot easily reach consensus.
▪ Value conflict involves the most basic level of disagreement.
▪ Unfortunately for planners, planning disputes often reveal divergent values.
• For example, in a dispute over the future use of a piece of farmland, different
parties hold contrasting opinions.
• Agricultural experts may urge that land remain in agricultural use to
protect long-term food supplies.
• Environmentalists may recommend that woods, ravines, and streams on
the farm be designated as environmentally sensitive habitat zones
protected from development.
• Neighbors may protest the potential for increased traffic and disrupted
views from urban expansion.
• Developers may welcome the jobs and taxes generated and the affordable
homes as a result.
• In each case, the participants' values influence the options they favour.
o "Motherhood" statements such as "we want clean, safe, vibrant, and caring communities"
offer little clarity or precision, providing little guidance for planners.
▪ Therefore, to create workable land use plans that will generate the kinds of
communities we seek, we need greater specificity in our goals.
o We do find some unique characteristics of Canadian planning practice.
▪ Peace, order, and good government have always had high priority in Canada.
▪ Therefore, we see acceptance of the authority of the state to limit ownership rights to
meet community needs or concerns.
• Politics and Practice:
o This chapter include five articles that present a range of perspectives on ethics and values in
o These articles are written by John Forester, Reg Lang, Leonie Sandercock, Nigel H.
Richardson, and Mark N. Wexler & Judy Oberlander (their respective articles will be
displayed in this order).
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Politics, Power, Ethics, and Practice: Abiding Problems for the Future of Planning (John
o How might the internal thinking of the profession of planning be changing and developing?
▪ To address this question, we can review four clusters of problems - old problems to
which our conventional answer might finally be changing: (1) the place of politics in
planning; (2) planning in the face of power; (3) the undiscussability of ethics in real
terms; and (4) the recognition that planning practice embraces far more than formal
• Toward a New Politics of Planning?
o There is a super negative image of politics in planning; it is associated with disagreement,
conflict, irrationality, loss of control, and so on.
▪ This image of politics has had its costs; shunning the politics of planning, some
planners tried to be detached, "objective" professionals, but this identity has always
▪ Planning problems are not only uncertain and often poorly defined, they are
▪ We often have to interpret what a goal, policy, regulation, or bylaw means.
▪ Once we do that, knowing that multiple and conflicting interpretations are always
possible (some favouring some people, others favouring others), we're right back to
o After the fall of large-scale modeling, discovering the dilemmas of systems analysis, and
recognizing the limits of cost-benefit analysis, the ideal of the detached objective
professional may be weakening.
▪ If this is half right, planners will feel more pressure than ever to develop a professional
identity that can take the necessarily political character of planning seriously.
o Therefore, it must be acknowledged and accepted that planning is political.
▪ The very unpredictability of planning practice may now lead us to a different image of
the politics of planning.
▪ Politics will still mean conflict, and people will still yell, but it will mean much more
▪ The new image of politics in planning is likely to focus less upon counting votes and
more on the questions: "Why those votes at this time on those issues?"
▪ Decisions will remain central, but more attention may now be given to agendas and to
institutions - to the stages on which the key participants in the planning process act.
▪ This meaning of politics will then require renewed attention to the many relationships
that planners have with others as they do their work, because the character and
quality of those relationships shape project outcomes.
o Politics, then, will mean not just covert bargaining, but relationship building.
▪ The politics of planning will not present puzzles to be solved, but patterns of practical
relationships - each with histories, investments, multiple goals, and precarious
relations of trust - to be anticipated.
▪ Politics will thus also mean coming to terms with the unique and particular identities
of the planned-with and planned-for (i.e., being able to listen and speak across
differences of race and gender).
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