Friday, July 16, 2021

Partial cost of Official Community Plan development and ongoing planning themes listed in recent Supplies and Services disclosure

City Council is now moving forward on planning issues with a brand new Official Community Plan in place and hopes for a revival of the downtown area among its many themes.

A look though some of the financial documentation of June is providing a snapshot as to some of the partial cost towards development of the document,  as well as to what is now the ongoing work of the city's contract planners from iPlan on the regular issues and areas of note when it comes to municipal planning for the community.

The 2020 Services and Supplies documents released in June indicate that in 2020, iPlan Planning and Development Services was compensated $164,603 for their work of last year, though how much of that compensation is related to their work on the OCP and how much is from their additional work as the city's planning department is not identified in the annual report.

The 2020 Supplies and Services information was released by the Financial Office as part of the Agenda for the June 14th Council session.

The work from iPlan continued into 2021, so what the cost for this years duties for the City won't be known until the 2021 Supplies and Services information is released in June of next year.

However, when it comes to the larger vision towards the New OCP, that work began much earlier than the arrival of iPlan officials who took in the December 2019 information session at the Lester Centre, an event which charted much of the course that the city is now taking. 

But how much the city has invested towards the overhaul of the Plan isn't quite clear from previous years, as the Supplies and Services notes do not explain what the city paid for when it comes to the firms listed in their information release. 

With a number of past vision making exercises, and the genesis of the new OCP coming through workshops and previous events dating back more than a few years, the running total is surely one which is much more than the $164,000 directed to iPlan in 2020.

Now that the Official Community Plan is in motion, City Council may wish to provide an update on their process and the cost of the path from the early days of LNG GO plans and Hays 2.0 vision plans and  those other elements that all led up towards the first days of planning for the new OCP prior to its approval in April of this year

The new document which was a much needed upgrade to reflect the current times is an impressive piece of work from the team and iPlan and through the work of Council; however providing for the breakdown on expenses towards its delivery should be a part of the dialogue from City Council as they move forward towards the future they envision ahead for us.

As well, another item of note coming out of recent Council decision making is what the future for the planning office at City hall may be, a topic  which should be addressed by the elected officials.
The City's Contract planners from iPlan have now shifted
from OCP preparation to handling much of the city's ongoing
planning requirements
(Screen shot from previous City of PR Council Session)

With the end of the work on the OCP it would appear that Council has made a shift from an in house department with salaries listed in the annual SOFI report, to that of a contract basis with much less in the way of clarity it seems for what the operation of the planning department is costing the city.

That change of direction was not discussed in any public session in the past, nor it seems was the contract position put out for a competitive bid, but rather was something that had been tagged on to the OCP duties that were provided by iPlan, that following the departure of former planner Zeno Krekic.

It's not unusual for small towns to make use of contract planning groups rather than to carry their own planning staff members. 

Though considering how City Council is often promoting Prince Rupert as an important part of the Northwest Gateway to the world and the ambitious redevelopment plans that Council have introduced, it does make for a curious decision.

Prince Rupert also is somewhat of an outlier in the Northwest on their current planning choice, with Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers all continuing to use their own staff for planning themes.

Beyond the decision to change the focus for planning, Council probably should provide some guidance for the public as to who they should now contact for items of interest related to the day to day themes of community planning and how they can direct their questions or relay their items of note, or concern.

At the most recent Council session of June 28th, the Council members asked questions related to a range of topics related to planning on the night. 

With no members from iPlan participating in the session that night, the City's Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller was fielding the requests, with a frequent refrain one of advising that she would have to check on the question and get back to the council members.

The information requested perhaps coming later in the week via e mail, or a phone call to the Councillor in question, but not as part of a public session. 

And that's something that probably should be noted, if a Council member poses a question in a public session then the answers should be shared with the public, something that navigates the oft mentioned themes towards transparency from the Council members.

While they're working that theme, providing some background on how they now approach planning for the community and why the move to a contract option over an in house planning office is something that Council members should explain to the public.

You can trace much of the past work on shaping planning policy through our ReDesign/Sustainable City archive page here.

A wider overview of past Council discussions is available here.



  1. What happened to a RQF for services. Why is this guy traveling from Victoria. I thought the city had a bid process for contractors. That is alot of money. Some of this should of been done in house.

    As for them working as city planner which has been happening since at least Feb. 2020 where was the authorization from council. Bob Long stated he was taking over city planner duties. Council was fine with that, why are we paying someone else to assume the duties Bob Long was supposed to be doing?

    1. Council has no administrative authority, that all falls to Dr.Bob.

      Is Iplan the most efficient approach? Time will tell.
      Are we getting the best possible service for the lowest possible cost? The jury is out on that.

      Now that the OCP is done, Iplan will likely move onto pet projects like food planning, bike lanes and other sustainability initiatives that will help fill up mayor post-a-lot's social media feed leading up to October 15th 2022, election day.

  2. I don't think that it's realistic for Long to be performing the city planner duties as well as his city manager job. But that being said and considering how much the council has focused on human resources by creating new positions, pay increases - introduced to address dealing with LNG proposals and then continued as regular pay - the City really should have a full-time planner on staff rather than contracting that out to consultants on the Island.