Title and statement of responsibility area
Planning operational records
General material designation
- Textual record
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Title statements of responsibility
- Variations in title: Formerly titled as 'Director's general files' and 'Director of Planning's general files'
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
Physical description area
17.22 m of textual records. - ca. 100 photographs. - ca. 60 maps
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Archival description area
Name of creator
The Planning Department was established on November 1, 1952 with the appointment of the Director of Planning, further to the July 1951 report commissioned by City Council from town planning consultants Harold Spence-Sales and John Bland (PD 335). The report had proposed that the Vancouver Town Planning Commission hand over the work intensive and detailed aspects of planning but maintain the advisory role to City Council (renamed Vancouver City Planning Commission in 1972). Those aspects were taken on by the new Planning Department, while the more substantial Zoning By-law interpretation and exception decision-making, as well as the broader aspects of city planning were carried out by a committee of relevant senior staff and officials, which was called the Technical Planning Board. The Board was chaired by the Director of Planning.
Previous to the establishment of the Planning Department in 1952 the Town Planning Commission was responsible for city planning (1926-1952). The earliest town planning or city planning activity was carried out under the authority of City Council, in conjunction with the Board of Works, and the Engineering Department (1886-1926).
Name of creator
The Vancouver Town Planning Commission was established by City Council on 1 Feb. 1926 (by-law no. 1771), following the passing of the Province's Town Planning Act (statutes, 1925, Ch. 55), according to federal leadership and, by that time, the precedent of all other provinces. The Town Planning Act had given Councils the authority to prepare official town plans (as well as harbour, railway, rapid-transit, and street-railway plans to coordinate with them), to designate land use districts and enforce the regulations (i.e. zoning regulations), and to consider any matters dealing with the physical development of a municipality. The City's by-law gave the Vancouver Town Planning Commission the authority to prepare and maintain a town plan (including harbour, etc., as indicated in the statute) and to carry out the land use designations and regulations called for in the plan (its recommendations went to City Council). Involvement in land use (i.e. zoning) matters decreased as of November 1952, when the City's Planning Department was established (which worked closely on land use matters with a committee of staff and officials, the Technical Planning Board). On 16 June 1960 (by-law no. 3850) the Vancouver Town Planning Commission formally became a City Council advisory body only, taking the broad view on land use issues and constituting an expression of public opinion on matters submitted to Council by the Director of Planning and Technical Planning Board. The 1926-1952 functions of the Vancouver Town Planning Commission were carried out as follows.
(1) City planning ("Town planning"). The first comprehensive town plan was prepared for the Town Planning Commission by the American consultants Harland Bartholomew and Associates in 1928, then revised in 1929 to include the newly added municipalities of South Vancouver and Point Grey. Followup reports were called for between 1944 and 1948. In consultation with the Town Planning Commission and Harland Bartholomew and Associates, City Council decided in 1950 that city planning was becoming increasingly complex, and required a dedicated Planning Department, which was in place by 1952.
(2) Zoning designation and regulation advisory. The earliest zoning or land use priority was preventing apartment houses from intruding into single family dwelling districts. The Zoning Committee was established in 1925, working toward the first Zoning By-law (no. 1830) which was passed on February 5, 1927. After amalgamation with South Vancouver and Point Grey, the Town Planning Commission contracted Harland Bartholomew and Associates to draft a subsequent Zoning By-law (passed 1930).
The functional predecessors of the Town Planning Commission were City Council, the Board of Works, and the City Engineer. The Commission was succeeded in the technical aspects of planning on 1 Oct. 1952 by the Planning Department, which worked in conjunction with the newly created Technical Planning Board. The Town Planning Commission was succeeded, in its advisory capacity, by the Vancouver City Planning Commission, established on January 18, 1972 (by-law no. 4599).
The Town Planning Commission reported to the City Council committee responsible for town planning (committee names changed frequently, e.g. the Building and Town Planning Committee).
From the beginning the Commission consisted of 9 members appointed by City Council and 5 or 6 who served as representatives of their bodies, e.g. the Mayor, the heads of the School Board and Park Board, the head of the National Harbours Board, etc. The appointed members elected a chair from among them. The position of Secretary was head of the paid staff and took responsibility for the recordkeeping, according to the by-law.
The Vancouver Town Planning Commission was renamed the Vancouver City Planning Commission on 18 Jan. 1972 (by-law no. 4599), some years after the Commission had become a lay advisory body.
The following individuals have served as chairmen of the Vancouver Town Planning Commission: Arthur G. Smith, 1926-1933; Frank E. Buck, 1934; G. L. Thornton Sharp, 1935; B. George Hansuld, 1936; Harry V. Jackson, 1937; J. C. McPherson, 1938; G. C. Miller, 1939; Frank E. Buck, 1939; W. R. Owen, 1940; F. N. Hamilton, 1941; E. M. Bennett, 1942; Charles T. Hamilton, 1943-1945; Harry V. Jackson, 1946-1947; Joseph Briggs, 1948-1949; C. Brakenbridge, 1950-1954; A. J. Harrison, 1955. The executive director was J. Alexander Walker, Secretary (known as the "Engineer-Secretary") , who had served in this position from the beginning until his retirement on 31 Oct. 1952 (6 Nov. 1952 Commission minutes).
For the records of the successor body see the Planning Department fonds. (The Archives has not yet received Vancouver City Planning Commission records.) See the Zoning Appeal Board fonds for its records (1927-1980, series 493). Also related are the basic records of the City kept as part of the City Council and Office of the City Clerk fonds, e.g. "Council minutes" (series 31), "Subject files - including Council supporting documents" (series 20); "Public hearings - Council zoning supporting documents" (series 42); etc. The Corporation of Point Grey, which amalgamated with the City of Vancouver in 1929 also had a Town Planning Commission (1926-1928 Commission minutes are at 6-C-14; the 1922 Town Planning by-law is part of PD 1142; the official Point Grey plan is at 77-A-6 file 4).
Scope and content
Series documents the core planning functions performed by the Planning Department, including land use and development planning, administering the Zoning and Development By-law and related by-laws, and providing advice on planning matters to other City units, Council and the Mayor's Office.
Records in this series consist of subject and project files relating to non-Heritage matters which were the responsibility of the Department. Subject titles corresponding to blocks in the departmental file plan have been retained as the first part of file titles.
Immediate source of acquisition
Photographs in this series have been assigned catalogue numbers with the prefix CVA 808 beginning with CVA 808-1.
Language of material
Script of material
Location of originals
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Restrictions on access
Access to some of the files in this series restricted in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Please refer to individual file descriptions for more information on applicable restrictions.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Series COV-S305 "Redevelopment files" of the Properties Division is related to the "Redevelopment" and "Urban renewal" files in this series.