Canadian Institue Of Planners

Shaping our Communities
Sustaining Canada's Future.

Gwyn Symmons FCIP

 
GwynSymmons
During Gwyn Symmons fifty-year planning career, he has managed planning processes ranging from long-term visioning and plan making to large- and small-scale site-specific developments. Many projects have aided the most vulnerable members of society.
 
Gwyn began his career in the UK in 1971 as a planner with the City of Manchester. In 1976, moving to Canada, Gwyn was successful in applying to become the City of Ottawa’s first housing planner. Subsequently he assisted in setting up the City of Ottawa’s non-profit housing corporation as the Director of Project Implementation and Third Sector Liaison. In 1983 he moved to Victoria and as the first General Manager, set up the Capital Region Housing Corporation in Victoria.
 
In 1986, Gwyn co-founded CitySpaces with Linda Allen as a consulting firm providing planning skills and services primarily across BC but including Alberta and Saskatchewan. The firm has two offices in Victoria and Vancouver. Gwyn has undertaken the coordination of a number of master planning projects in Victoria including the Glendale Lands, Royal Bay, the former Victoria General Hospital site, and in Saskatoon (2004), the South Downtown Concept Plan (River Landing).  Gwyn has used his expertise to guide the development consulting side of CitySpaces assisted in planning and developing multiple non-profit housing units, emergency shelter beds, but also facilities for post-secondary education institutions and other mixed use or complex projects.
 
Gwyn and Linda transitioned the ownership of CitySpaces to Jada Basi and Noha Sedky in 2020, but Gwyn continues to work in the company and assist in its management.
 
Gwyn is often asked to provide advice to non-profit housing providers, provincial agencies, and municipalities. He has been extensively involved in the planning and project management of housing projects for families, seniors, youth, persons with special needs, and others. Gwyn has been a strong advocate of the value of social housing and providing high quality, appropriate affordable housing. He has defended new non-profit housing developments at many public hearings and continually advocated for the importance of excellent design in shelters and non-market housing.
 
Gwyn has been the recipient of excellence in planning awards including, in 2020, the Silver Winner PIBC Award in the category of Inclusionary Planning for the Affordable Housing Redevelopment Criteria Tool. Prepared with Metro Vancouver, the tool provides a method for reviewing existing affordable housing in larger portfolios or across municipal jurisdictions for opportunities to redevelop and increase the number of affordable units. The 2015 Canadian Institute of Planners’ Award for Planning Excellence in Planning Publications recognized the Expiring Operating Agreements Planning Guide. 
 
While Gwyn’s projects were focused in BC, his publications have been used across Canada by local governments, non-profits, and developers involved in the provision of housing and shelter. His work and advocacy for planning and design of services to diverse vulnerable populations experiencing homelessness and other housing challenges has informed many projects.