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Assessment of a Community's Planning Needs

Saskatchewan municipalities are actively considering how they want to grow. Some of the issues municipal councils may faced are:

  • increased diversity of economic opportunities;
  • an influx of new residents;
  • greater demands on aging infrastructure;
  • rising costs for new services; and
  • more interest in land development.

Strategies to manage growth will need to address things like:

  • economic development;
  • community services;
  • local and regional ambitions;
  • identity; and
  • environmental hazards.

Communities need an official community plan (OCP) and zoning bylaw to enable these strategies. These tools allow council to outline its intentions for growth. Under The Planning and Development Act, 2007 (PDA), a new OCP must be prepared for the community in consultation with a registered professional planner.


1. Professional Membership

Registered professional planners are required to be licensed to practice by the Saskatchewan Professional Planners Institute (SPPI) and to be a full member of the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP).

Licensed professional planners in Saskatchewan will have the designations R.P.P. (Registered Professional Planner) and M.C.I.P. (Members of the Canadian Institute of Planners).

Out of province MCIP may also practice in Saskatchewan, provided they obtain a Non-Resident membership with SPPI. This designation ensures that you are hiring an experienced, educated, ethical and insured professional who is accountable to a set of professional standards and who must adhere by a code of ethics.

There are also candidate members of SPPI and CIP. Candidate members are eligible for full membership, are formally affiliated with SPPI and CIP and are gaining the professional planning experience necessary to qualify for full professional membership. Candidate members are typically junior professionals entering practice. CIP insures its candidate members and they are also accountable to a set of professional planning standards and ethics.

Candidate members require two to six years of planning experience before they can apply for full membership.

The distinction between full and provisional membership is important as only members with a RPP designation are allowed to sign off on an OCP or provide professional planning services to a recognized approving authority under the PDA.

A candidate member may be able to assist in the preparation of an OCP, in consultation with a RPP member. Candidate members can also assist municipalities with a variety of other planning issues and act as development officers.

All municipalities with a zoning bylaw are required to have a development officer handle local planning issues; administrators often take on this role.

Development officer duties include:

  • bylaw amendments;
  • development permits;
  • minor variances;
  • zoning enforcement;
  • servicing agreements;
  • mapping; and
  • other planning related matters such as annexations or district planning arrangements.

2. Evaluating your needs

Not all municipalities have the same planning service needs. One of the first questions a municipality should ask when looking for planning services is:

Should I contract services from a private sector professional or hire a planner on staff?

The best way to answer this question is to determine the planning needs of your municipality or planning district by asking the following questions.

  1. Do you need a new OCP or District OCP?
    If, for now, your planning needs are limited to the preparation of an OCP or a District OCP, hiring a contract planner may be the most practical option. Consider hiring for a term or on a fee for service basis.

  2. Does your Council or Commission require regular planning advice?
    If your municipality requires regular access to planning and development advice, you may benefit most from hiring a planner, permanently or on long-term contract.

  3. Do you need someone to manage development in your jurisdiction, issue permits, prepare reports, amend your bylaws and enforce the zoning bylaw?
    If your municipality requires regular access to planning and development services, you may benefit most from hiring a planner.

  4. Do you need someone to provide advice and manage development one or two days a week?
    Hiring a registered professional planner part-time can be difficult, but some qualified contract planners will consider working with municipalities on a regular part-time basis.

    Alternatively, if there are other municipalities that have part-time needs, there may be an opportunity to job share a registered professional planner to create a full time opportunity.

  5. Do you need a project to begin right away?
    Hiring a planner on staff or contracting a registered professional planner is both viable choices. A staff planner will be able to focus exclusively on your assignments and start right away. Some consulting firms have access to several planners to work on your project, but may also have several other clients who they are working with at the same time.

    If you do not suspect that you will need planning services in the long term, you may wish to contract a registered professional planner.

3. Needs Assessment Matrix

  Full member Provisional member Full Time Part-Time / Contract Shared Services
New OCP or
District OCP
Yes     Yes Yes
Planning Services
Yes Yes Yes   Yes
Full Time
Dev't. Officer
Yes Yes Yes   Yes
Dev't officer
Yes Yes   Yes Yes
Planning Advice
Yes Yes   Yes Yes
Specific Services
Yes Yes   Yes Yes

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