Planning

We approach planning as a systematic decision-making process that focuses attention on important issues and on how to resolve them. Planning provides an approach and general framework for action: a way to be inclusive and determine priorities, make wise choices and allocate scarce resources (e.g., time, money, skills) to achieve stated objectives. Some typical planning projects are:

• Comprehensive community plans (CCP)
• Official Community Plans
• Land Use Plans
• Economic Development Plans
• Implementation and Action Plans
• Corporate Strategic Plans
• Physical Site Plans
• Climate Change Plans
• Sector Plans (health, transportation, tourism, agriculture)

Planning is preparing for the future. It is something we all do, but it is not always easy. Things can quickly become complex as new information is generated and multiple interests are identified. Facts and values can get mixed up. Uncertainty and risk are not addressed. Planning processes can stall or be derailed by loud voices or lack of capacity. Unhelpful “laundry lists” get generated that end up collecting dust on a shelf rather than achieving action on the ground. These challenges are compounded by poorly structured approaches or more prescriptive ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches.

For over 25 years we have been committed to working with clients and communities to not only avoid the pitfalls but to achieve the highest standards in the profession. Our planning approach helps identify the most effective and realistic options. Using both well established and cutting edge tools and techniques, our Ten Steps to Successful Planning © (shown below) approach is based on four guiding questions: 1) Where are we now? 2) Where do we want to go? 3) How do we get there? 4) Have we arrived?

Our Approach

Driven by Community Values: Every community is different. We start by listening to community members to find out what is important. Then, we use the values that we identify through this process as a framework to prioritize actions that are appropriate, feasible, and broadly supported. 

Based on Local Knowledge: We work with local people who know their communities and regions and are well positioned to generate practical ideas that make the best use of local assets. We then tap into, organize, and evaluate this local knowledge, using methods and tools from structured decision making to focus investment and energy where it will have the strongest impact.

Expert Supported: We step in where expertise is needed by providing rigorous analysis, cutting-edge research, innovative ideas and over 20 years of experience in the field. We have found that top-down, expert-directed planning approaches work only in unique circumstances and typically do not produce the results communities and clients need for success.

Pragmatic and Effective: Great strategies are strategies that get implemented. We hate to see strategies that are nothing more than laundry lists gathering dust on a shelf. Our approach ensures that the people who will be implementing the plan are involved throughout its development, and that the plan lays out the implementation architecture (i.e., who will be doing what, when). We can also provide supplementary services during implementation, such as project management and coaching. We call this “surge capacity”.

Guidebooks, Toolkits and Publications

Strategic Planning Toolkit for Local Economic Development
BC Government. 2013

Planning For Climate Change: A Strategic, Values Based Approach For Urban Planners
UN HABITAT. 2011

Promoting Local Economic Development through Strategic Planning
UN-HABITAT and EcoPlan International. 2005.

Strategic Planning for Participatory District Development
UN HABITAT. 2007

Awards

We have been recognized with over 25 awards in planning. Please visit our Awards page http://epiconsulting.ca/awards/ for details.