Canadian Institue Of Planners

Shaping our Communities
Sustaining Canada's Future.

David R. Witty FCIP

Dave has combined academia and practice much of his career. He has volunteered extensively where he has lived (Bowen Island, Nanaimo, Winnipeg) believing that ‘giving back’ is a key attribute for professionals who have been blessed with the opportunity to help shape communities and, through that, community quality of life.

Since the early ‘70s, Dave has practiced across Western Canada from the Lakehead to the west coast of Vancouver Island and into the high Arctic. He has completed assignments as a Senior Planner with the Province of Manitoba; Chief Planner, Parks Canada: Prairie Region (including the Yukon and Northwest Territories); Principal Hilderman Witty Crosby Hanna and Associates (HWCH), an award-winning Winnipeg and Saskatoon firm of landscape architects and planners; and Principal and Director Urban Systems Ltd., a multi-disciplinary firm in Alberta and British Columbia. In Winnipeg, while with HWCH, Dave taught professional practice and regional studios in the landscape architecture program at the University of Manitoba. He has advised large and small cities, rural communities and First Nations in areas of urban design, community planning and resource impact assessment. Beginning in his teen years on Manitoulin Island, his life-long work with Indigenous Peoples informed his world view and influenced his approach to community planning and resource impact assessment. That work included several major hydro-development negotiations and settlements with and on behalf of the Pimicikamak People and Wabaseeemoong Independent Nations, including sitting across the table from Maurice Strong, Chair of Ontario Hydro. Since the early ‘80s, he has been a proponent for the use of charrettes to help communities shape their future and, over the course of his career, has led over 100 charrettes in remote First Nations to large urban centres. Between 2008-11, he assisted the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council by conducting urbanism courses and urban design workshops for Emirati professionals.

During the early nineties, when he took a sabbatical to complete his doctorate, Dave was Acting Director, Continuing Professional Programs and Co-ordinator of the Certificate in Site Planning at the School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC. In the late ‘90s, he helped to develop and taught in the award-winning Certificate in Urban Design at Simon Fraser University.

He was Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba (2001-2009). At the time, the Faculty was the largest design and planning Faculty (architecture, city planning, environmental design, interior design and landscape architecture) in Canada. While Dean, he taught in the Environmental Design Program and interdisciplinary graduate design studios held in northern Manitoba First Nations. Dave served as Senior Vice-President (Provost and Vice-President [Academic]) at Vancouver Island University located in Nanaimo (2010-2018) and helped develop and taught design studios in the Master of Community Planning.

Dave has been appointed as a Member of three Canadian Environmental Assessment Review Panels. He chaired the Winnipeg Heritage Advisory Committee and helped to develop the Area’s Design Guidelines, one of the first of their kind in Canada. He has served as a member of the International Advisory Board, Centre for African Settlement Studies and Development, and a number of regional bodies, including Smart Growth BC where he was a Founding Director. For 12 years, he served on the Advisory Committee for Planning, Design and Realty, National Capital Commission, Ottawa. He was founding chair of the City of Winnipeg’s Urban Design Advisory Committee. Dave is a founding member of the Council for Canadian Urbanism and was appointed an Honorary Member in 2010. He has juried several national and international urban design awards. He is a former Chair of the Manitoba Professional Planners Institute (formerly MACIP), former President of the Canadian Institute of Planners (1988/89) and was founding Chair of the Canadian Healthy Communities Project (1988-91). He served the Planning Institute of British Columbia (PIBC) as Chair, Membership Committee. He was elected a Fellow of CIP in 1998. As part of the FutureFORWARD Task Force, he received the President’s Award, “in recognition of an outstanding lifetime contribution to professional planning in Canada.” In 2019, Dave was awarded Life Member of PIBC. Dave is a Life Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and has been active in the Mid-Vancouver Island Chapter of RAIC. 

Throughout his career, Dave has been committed to the notion that theory informs practice and practice informs theory. To that end, he has written numerous planning articles and delivered papers at national and international conferences. In 2001, he authored CIP’s Professional Practice Manual. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects National Honour and a Regional Merit Award (as part of HWCH). On behalf of CIP, Dave was the 2010 Elite Visiting Scholar, Hong Kong Baptist University. He is the recipient of the Manitoba Southeast Tribal Council Recognition of Service to First Nations (2009).

In 2019, he was appointed Senior Fellow Urban Design, Master of Community Planning, Vancouver Island University where he provides guest lectures, leads his yearly best practice tour, and supervises and mentors graduate planning students.

He continues to advocate for quality urban planning and design through writings, op-eds, lectures, invited presentations and community service, and selected consulting projects.