Career Profile: City Planner
Urban planning can make a huge difference to how people live and how visitors experience the city. Streets set in squares or rectangles, for example, are easier for visitors to follow but can be boring for the city’s residents. The number of parks and other green spaces can make a huge difference in how people feel about a city, and the organization of public transit or other methods of transportation can make a difference to the health and happiness of people in the city.
Sometimes, good urban planning can even help transform a city. This happened in the South American city of Bogota, Colombia, several years ago. Even when the results are less dramatic, the role of city planners is very important. Becoming a city planner is a good career choice for anyone with the imagination and insight to find the best possible ways to use land in urban areas.
Planning a city can be a lot like putting a puzzle together. Basically, the role of urban planners is to make the city as liveable and efficient as possible so that people can go to work, go home, and enjoy their lives as much as possible. Finding places for people to live is an important part of urban life. Planners need to find space for apartments, houses of different sizes, seniors’ homes, and other places for people to live. Making room for roads and public transportation systems like buses or subways is also an important part of urban planning. People also need places to shop and room for community centres, schools, churches, and many other buildings.
Another very important part of city life is its parks and green spaces where people can spend time outdoors. When Enrique Peñalosa became the mayor of Bogota, Colombia in 1998, he wanted to do something about the crime and the huge economic differences in his city. He limited car usage in the city but also set up one of the best city bus systems in the world. He also realized the importance of green spaces. Part of his plan was to build new parks, walkways, and bicycle lanes so that rich and poor people could all get out and meet each other in public places. These ideas have not solved all of Bogota’s problems, but they have made a huge difference.
This kind of creative thinking is essential for urban planners. Becoming a city planner normally requires at least a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s in urban planning recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners. Many universities across Canada offer degrees in this field. City planners spend a lot of time gathering information, analyzing it, and trying to fit the information into plans that help the people in urban areas. For this work, city planners generally get paid between about $40,000 and $87,000 per year.