Land Use Planner

Land use planners decide how to build communities based on environmental and human needs. After taking the time to understand what residents, community groups, politicians, and business people want in their communities, land use planners develop a strategy for action. For example, if a land use planner were creating a plan for a new neighborhood, he or she would design roads, parks, homes, and stores. Land use planners work for real estate agencies, not-for-profit organizations, architectural companies, and the government.

At a Glance

Imagine you are watching the sunset as you stand on a ridge overlooking a valley. Out of the corner of your eye, you see movement. It’s a doe and her fawn. Watching them graze, you smile knowing that your work designing this wildlife park means that wild animals will always be free to roam in this beautiful, natural environment. It’s your job to create land use plans that meet the needs of people and communities, while still preserving the natural environment as much as possible. As you hike back to your car, you think about the doe and her fawn and reflect on what you did to make this park a reality.

After developing an initial plan, you studied the land and the people of this area to make sure you were on the right track. You created reports and presentations. You met with community stakeholders, lawyers, and scientists to discuss ideas and get feedback. You also held public meetings to present your plan, which helped you to further understand the community’s needs and address any outstanding concerns. As a land use planner, you mostly work out of an office as part of a team, but you can also be found working outdoors on development sites.

Although you may wait years to see your land use plans come to life, it’s very rewarding when they do. You are dedicated to making a difference and are happy that the end result has a positive impact on the environment and the generations to come.

Job Duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a land use planner:

  • Prepare plans for environmental protection such as wildlife preserves, national and provincial parks, and watershed protection.
  • Prepare land use plans for housing, transportation systems, farms, and parks.
  • Study the physical land and an area’s people to make sure that land use plans are appropriate.
  • Hold public meetings to present plans, proposals, and studies to the general public and special interest groups.
  • Process applications for land development permits.
  • Supervise and co-ordinate the work of urban planning technicians and technologists.

Work Environment

Land use planners work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:

In the office:

  • Develop the scope of the plan
  • Write reports on the land use plan
  • Create terms of reference and budget

In the field:

  • Meet with community stakeholders to discuss plans
  • Hold workshops and community meetings to gain information about the community needs, and address any concerns
  • Assess the region to develop the best land use plan

Where to Work

Education and Skills

In most cases, the minimum educational requirement to work as a land use planner is a university undergraduate degree. Advanced degrees make land use planners more competitive in the job market. The following post-secondary programs are most applicable for a career in this field:

  • Urban/land use planning
  • Geography
  • Environmental studies
  • Architecture
  • Engineering

The recognized professional accreditation for this occupation, MCIP/ MICU, is obtained through full membership with the Canadian Institute of Planners. If you are a high school student considering a career as a land use planner, you should have a strong interest in:

  • English
  • Computer science
  • Geography
  • Biology

Role Models

Your Impact

Occupational Classification

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