Canadian Institue Of Planners

Shaping our Communities
Sustaining Canada's Future.

Plan Canada - Autumn 2023


Smart Growth  A review of Progress, Challenges, and its Impact Across Canada

The low-density, dispersed, and auto-oriented sprawl that dominated development after WWII has transformed Canada into a suburban nation. Amongst planners, it is widely regarded that this model of growth is neither sustainable nor resilient due to the plethora of negative externalities associated with it, including the loss of important agricultural lands and ecological areas, air and water pollution, the growing infrastructure deficit, isolated and sedentary lifestyles, and downtown decline and disinvestment.
In response, smart growth, a concept first developed in the United States in the 1990s, and subsequently integrated into Canadian planning practice, championed more sustainable patterns of growth and development. Specifically, the smart growth agenda includes 10 core principles:

  • Mixed land uses
  • Take advantage of compact design
  • Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
  • Create walkable neighbourhoods
  • Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
  • Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environmental areas
  • Direct development towards existing communities
  • Provide a variety of transportation choices
  • Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
  • Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions

Today, smart growth remains highly influential in Canadian planning. What was once a novel departure from typical planning and development approaches is now considered to be best practice in planning. As the principles of smart growth have moved into the mainstream, critiques have emerged, especially related to the impact of smart growth strategies on gentrification and housing affordability.
The Fall 2023 edition of Plan Canada aims to explore the advancement and integration of smart growth principles in Canada. We want to hear about the success stories of smart growth as a model for growth and development, the challenges that persist with respect to implementation, how the approach has evolved over the last three decades, and other related topics that explore smart growth in the Canadian context.
The Plan Canada Editorial Committee is seeking a range of submissions that relate to the above including articles that centre on intensification, mixed-use development, new downtowns, transit- and walking-oriented development, sustainable modes of transportation, placemaking, land preservation, and sustainability (economic, environmental, social). Articles that challenge the smart growth model or suggest new directions are also welcome. 

Submission deadline is July 14, 2023