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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Urban and Land Use Planners (2153)

Urban and land use planners develop plans and recommend policies for managing land use, physical facilities and associated services for urban and rural areas and remote regions. They are employed by all levels of government, land developers, engineering and other consulting companies or may work as private consultants.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read e-mail from co-workers, supervisors, council members and members of the public. They read about topics such as meetings, revised costing and proposed development projects. (2)
  • Read about decisions, actions and general project information in documents such as issue analysis forms and monthly project status reports. They read to stay informed about current projects and find out about specific situations such as progress of land development proposals and by-law revisions. They identify relevant information and concerns and brief their supervisors and co-workers. (3)
  • Read and interpret by-laws to correctly apply them to development projects, determine what recommendations to attach to land development proposals and propose amendments. (4)
  • Read domestic and international land development and urban design journals and academic textbooks such as Ontario Planning. They read to remain current on models, theories and trends and for reference when completing research for specific projects. For example, they may read studies and analysis reports to find alternative solutions and models for urban core deterioration or The Science of Highway Safety to better understand and analyze roadway safety data to make recommendations for proposed transportation corridor developments. (4)
  • Read land development project proposals and 'request for proposals' which often include supporting studies, specifications and budgets. They read the proposals for details, scope, timelines, finances, objectives and challenges of projects. They are required to interpret text that is dense with legal and content-specific terminology to ensure that they clearly understand the requirements and objectives of proposed projects. (4)
  • Read lengthy and detailed research reports and studies such as impact studies and roadway reports prepared by departmental staff and consultants. They use their expertise to draw conclusions about the quality of the reports and how they will integrate the information. For example, they read impact studies and roadway configuration reports for urban design and land use projects. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Scan labels for dates, file numbers and titles to locate specific files, maps and plans. (1)
  • Take information from a variety of entry forms such as issue analyses, timesheets and submissions for approval, and invoices. For example, they review and verify invoices for accuracy and completeness before submitting them, or review timesheets to monitor how resources are being used. (2)
  • Review aerial photographs of land to confirm details shown on maps and constructions drawings, and monitor incremental changes from previous photographs such as the growth of vegetation over time. (3)
  • Enter scheduling, budget and operational data and details onto administrative forms, tables and spreadsheets. They may have to combine data from several sources before entry into other documents. For example, they complete project summary forms that provide brief activity descriptions, budget details and timeframes. They may enter average traffic queues or flows for roads for specified periods. They enter land use details into zoning tables to classify areas and lay out land use. (3)
  • Scan and interpret graphs. For example, they review graphs showing daily and monthly parkland use to determine peak usage times. They use the information to complete analyses for long-term planning of land use and identify infrastructure needs. They review graphs of traffic flows, queues and volumes to monitor the usage of roadways. They review population projection, service capacity and demand graphs. (3)
  • Take information from scale drawings. For example, they locate elevation data on topographical maps. They take measurements from scale drawings such as development plans and construction drawings to confirm the location of buildings and structures. They also refer to city master plans and overlay maps to locate information such as existing and proposed services infrastructures, population densities and types of land use. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write brief e-mail to co-workers, supervisors, council members and members of the public responding to questions and requesting information. For example, they write to confirm their attendance at meetings and request project updates such as revisions to project timelines and costing figures. (2)
  • Write letters and longer e-mail to exchange information with colleagues, clients and professional contacts. For example, they comment on reports, studies, proposed legislation and land development projects. They write detailed e-mail to town engineers regarding infrastructure capacities such as the capacity of sewage treatment plants. They write letters to building owners, architects and real estate developers outlining by-law requirements and planning recommendations. They write letters to keep clients and managers current on the progress of projects. (2)
  • Write descriptions and explanations on issue analysis and recommendation forms. They may write several paragraphs describing the issues, contributing factors, corrective actions and recommendations. For example, they complete recommendation forms when initiating projects such as urban renewal of streets. (3)
  • Prepare discussion papers for community consultations, press releases and marketing brochures. They write these materials in a factual and inviting style to increase interest in land development and renewal projects. (3)
  • Write brief reports such as submission for approval and project development reports. They include detailed analyses and arguments to support and justify their recommendations and requests. For example, they write submissions for approvals when submitting land development proposals for consideration. They prepare planning reports for residential developments and research reports providing analyses of various land development options for sensitive development areas. They write brief reports recommending amendments to existing land use agreements and municipal, provincial and federal acts. (4)
  • May write new by-laws, addenda or amendments for existing municipal by-laws and policies. When writing for a general audience, they strive to present the legislative rules and requirements clearly and unambiguously. (4)
  • May write research reports and discussion papers for conferences presentations. They write the material for technical and specialist audiences. The papers may include research methodologies, detailed discussions on the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data and the significance of findings of urban design and land use development research. For example, they write discussion papers outlining how the cultural composition of communities influences streetscape design. (5)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Calculate travel expense amounts using established rates such as per kilometre travel rates. (2)
  • Prepare invoices for clients for services rendered such as project consultations. They calculate the billing amounts using established rates for labour and equipment, and apply discounts, mark-ups and add taxes. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Complete cost analyses for land development, urban renewal and building renovation projects. They compare various payment structures such as cost splitting with corporate sponsors, phasing projects over several years and one-time payments to determine the best option. (3)
  • Establish and monitor schedules for short and long-term projects. For example, they establish critical timelines and schedule the activities of staff and consultants. They monitor human resources, materials and equipment expenses to ensure projects are within budget, and adjust schedules and budget lines to accommodate unexpected delays and costs. When scheduling they need to consider co-ordination of tasks with other departments and companies. (4)
  • May establish and maintain annual department and project budgets. This includes budgeting of staff, consultants, research, community consultations and material development. They must be able to incorporate unexpected costs such as additional refurbishing costs on buildings and land use studies. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Take measurements from construction drawings and maps using instruments such as rulers and protractors. They calculate and confirm the location, distances and dimensions of buildings, structures and infrastructures such as water, sewage and roadway systems. (3)
  • May calculate indirect measurements using principles of geometry. For example, they use geometry to determine the gradients of roads. They complete slope analyses of hillsides using elevation measurements and contours on topographical maps and plans when planning the potential placement of various elements of developments. (4)
Data Analysis Math
  • Analyze and interpret research data such as data from traffic impact studies. They analyze traffic flow and volume averages through different interconnected traffic corridors to determine the impact of high-density residential developments. (3)
  • Analyze data from research studies when planning potential land use. For example, they analyze data from environmental impact studies such as those covering woodland sensitivity issues, before making recommendations for land development projects. (3)
  • Complete statistical analyses when making recommendations and creating plans for urban design and land use. For example, when performing trend analyses of population growths to determine future infrastructure demands they use a range of statistics. They analyze population growth trends from Statistics Canada census data and current statistics of infrastructure usage from which they conclude and recommend residential development planning. (4)
  • May analyze how construction variables impact on other costing variables to develop accurate costing procedures when considering the viability of projects. This could include comparison of unit costs relating to various construction methods for infrastructure components and analyses of actual costs such as infrastructure maintenance costs over time. For example, municipal planners consider the initial and long term costs of constructing a river crossing using either a bridge over the river or a tunnel underneath to develop accurate cost comparisons. (4)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the time required to complete planning projects of limited extent such as severing small plots of land from family farms. They consider the number of lots, size of property and by-law requirements when making their estimation. (2)
  • Estimate human resources, equipment and financial requirements. For example, they estimate resource requirements for renewal projects such as waterfront revitalizations and reforestation of lands. They consider many unpredictable variables including time delays and additional costs due to unforeseen problems such as the discovery of asbestos in buildings. (3)
  • May estimate the impact of proposed housing developments on infrastructure and other community services to maintain required standards when making recommendations. They consider variables such as policing, firefighting, parks and open space requirements, in addition to infrastructure needs. Estimation errors can erode the ability to provide essential municipal services. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Exchange information with co-workers, managers, consultants and clients. For example, they explain by-law requirements to clients and managers and talk with consultants about technical changes required for renovation projects. (2)
  • Provide instructions, directions and explanations to co-workers. For example, they discuss research procedures with junior staff and give co-workers instructions for preparing new by-laws. (2)
  • Participate in public meetings, working groups and committees. As planning experts, they present facts and recommendations concisely and persuasively. For example, they may present expert testimony on the viability of renovating historical buildings or constructing river crossings to join proposed residential developments. They also participate in pre-consultation meetings with other planners and engineers to discuss planned developments. (3)
  • Interact with clients throughout land development projects. They discuss options, advise clients and make recommendations. For example, they outline approval processes, discuss potential problems such as negative study results and community reactions and make recommendations for overcoming difficulties. (3)
  • May facilitate weekly project and staff meetings. For example, they discuss group performance, assign tasks, outline actions and set weekly priorities. They may provide instructions for tasks such as evaluating historical sites and creating business development proposals. (3)
  • Facilitate ongoing meetings and help negotiate agreements between land developers, funding partners and government representatives. They require strong mediation and facilitation skills to ensure agreements are reached. For example, they facilitate meetings for the development of jointly- funded community centres where project costs are split between various government departments and local businesses. (4)
  • Present draft reports and defend planning recommendations before city and town councils. They present complex technical details to support their recommendations and ensure councils are making informed decisions. For example, an urban planner may present their recommendations and reasons for supporting medium-density urban development projects such as townhouses, even though members of the public are opposed. (4)
  • Facilitate public consultation sessions, which are often unpredictable and require strong public speaking and conflict resolution skills. For example, they facilitate public meetings for proposed skateboard parks or apartment buildings, which are attended by interest groups that have strong opposing views. Urban and land use planners must address a broad range of objections and concerns such as increased traffic, noise, vandalism and decrease in housing values to garner support for controversial projects. (4)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Are unable to find replacement materials and supplies when renovating historical buildings. They identify alternative options such as custom-built windows to duplicate the original look. (2)
  • Discover design flaws in ongoing projects and realize that they cannot complete work as originally specified. They obtain revised plans from engineers and then seek approval from clients to proceed with modified designs. On larger projects, they work with developers, contractors, planning boards, council members and other interested parties to create modified designs and project schedules. (3)
  • Encounter budget shortfalls because some items were budgeted too low. They find that time delays and escalating prices leave too little money to complete work as planned. They speak with managers and clients to discuss options such as revising plans to stay within budgets or seeking outside funding sources. (3)
  • Encounter interest groups who are unwilling to negotiate agreements and attempt to delay projects. For example, a special interest group refuses to support a planning initiative for a park unless the group receives funding for another project. The planner may suspend negotiations and seek the involvement of senior managers if an impasse is reached. (3)
  • Find that individuals and interest groups are misinformed and object to proposed developments projects. They explore the objections and respond by providing further information and modifying development plans. For example, an urban planner anticipates that members of the public will object to a proposed skateboard park. At a public meeting, the planner discovers that increased noise and vandalism are key concerns. The planner presents data from studies, which show that recreational activities decrease vandalism. Following further discussions, the planner modifies the development plan to include more lighting to dissuade vandalism and noise barriers to buffer sounds from the park. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide project objectives and outcomes when developing 'request for bids' such as for building renewal projects or marine conservation studies. (2)
  • Make decisions to modify projects and activity timelines. They consider the positive benefits and negative outcomes. For example, they decide to move the date of streetscaping projects to coincide with major construction projects on the same street, or to approve limited land development in semi-sensitive woodlands to prevent future development in highly sensitive woodlands. They seek approval from clients, managers and municipal councils before implementing decisions. (3)
  • Decide strategies and approaches when presenting development proposals to councils, boards and community groups. Their approach may vary for each proposal. For example, a land planner decides to present maps and drawings of proposed cottage lots to the local cottage association to demonstrate how the development keeps the integrity of the existing forest and land use. (3)
  • May decide to recommend variances on construction and planning projects when they feel existing by-laws no longer reflect the current land use trends. For example, a planner decides to support a variance for a proposed deck when existing by-laws place irrelevant restrictions on properties. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate by-law descriptions and other writing prepared by junior staff and consultants. They considering the accuracy, clarity and relevance of information. (2)
  • May evaluate the success of renewal projects. For example, parkland planners evaluate reforestation projects using established outcome indicators such as a forest growth over time of reforestations projects. (2)
  • Evaluate the ability of existing by-laws to meet the changing demands and practices in urban planning and land use when recommending by-law changes. They consider the number and type of variances permitted every year and the problems encountered with the current by-laws. In addition, they may speak with other planners in similar communities to review their present by-law practices. Their recommendations can carry significant weight and impact on future urban and land use planning. (3)
  • Evaluate the adequacy of present services and infrastructure to meet increased demands resulting from proposed land developments. For example, when reviewing proposed medium and high-density developments, they consider the resulting effects on water works, transportation, recreation and other essential services. Their evaluations are based on analyses of current statistics or studies prepared by consultants. (3)
  • Evaluate the viability, suitability and acceptability of planning and land use proposals and projects. For example, parkland planners evaluate the adequacy of proposed conservation projects designed to increase the population of various marine species through analysis of marine conservation studies. Their recommendations are not always welcomed or supported. (4)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Urban and land use planners often work in dynamic environments with many conflicting demands on their time. They receive their assignments from managers or municipal councils and then plan their tasks and activities to accommodate meetings, multiple project schedules and deadlines. There are frequent disruptions to their schedule to accommodate changing priorities or status of projects. On a day-to-day basis, they may reschedule activities to fit in unexpected meetings or presentations or deal with problems as they arise. They integrate their tasks and work plan with external consultants and co-workers from other departments. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Urban and land use planners participate in strategic planning for land development and renewal projects such as long-term city, park management and urban renewal plans. They are often responsible for planning and scheduling the tasks of staff and consultants. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the key details and historical facts for many ongoing projects to answer questions.
  • Recall common policies and by-laws to speed up their evaluation of proposed projects and construction submissions.
  • Remember observations made while in meetings or during site visits to record later.
  • Remember the changes made to proposals until the revised proposals are available for review.
Finding Information
  • Refer to planning and costing guides and rates to complete project budgeting. (1)
  • Draw on information from Internet sites, archives and newspaper clippings to understand the history of areas when developing urban renewal plans. (3)
  • Consult with colleagues and content experts to research new trends for land development, discuss urban renewal ideas and develop recommendations for by-law revisions. (3)
  • Draw on information from research data, studies and reports such as environmental impact, noise, archaeological and forecasting studies to prepare development plans, proposals and recommendations. They must synthesize information to ensure planning projects meet necessary governmental standards and requirements. (4)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use communication software. For example, they send e-mail with attachments to group members and maintain address books and distribution lists. They also use the day planner and reminder alarm features. (2)
  • Use Internet. For example, they conduct searches to locate and download information from city, municipal or provincial sites for research. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they prepare visual presentations that integrate text, pictures and drawings. They may manipulate features within images and integrate additional information for use when making presentations to clients and management. (3)
  • Use word processing. For example, they prepare reports and manuals and integrate tables, photographs, graphics and use advanced formatting features. They may prepare final desktop publishing for documents, formatting the table of contents, page set-up and layout. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, they use databases for information management and modify existing databases to gather additional information for specific projects. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they insert formulae and other features to track and monitor expenses, group performance, trending variables and project progress. (3)
  • Use statistical analysis software such as Haested Methods to complete trend analysis for land use planning of services and infrastructure. They may set the data analysis criteria for the statistical models. (3)
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, they may use AutoCAD and Softdesk to create scale drawings of designs from conceptual line drawings to completed design drawings. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Urban and land use planners are usually members of management teams. They work with individuals from all levels and types of organizations. They complete tasks and conduct research independently but integrate activities and consult with others such as managers, co-workers and consultants to manage projects and meet deadlines. They work as part of a team by providing research reports, proposals and recommendations, which require collaborative work with staff in other departments and organizations. For example, they collaborate with planners, engineers, consultants and contractors from external firms and in-house departments when completing new housing development and waterfront renewal projects. (3)

Continuous Learning

Urban and land use planners are required by their profession and employers to continually update their knowledge and skills. . They attend professional association conferences, build and maintain networks among colleagues in the field such as planners, engineers and architects. They also read professional publications and journals and take academic courses to enhance their knowledge and to further develop specific skills. (4)

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