Under the initiative known as nextCITY, The City of Calgary Planning, Development and Assessment Department (PDA) has undertaken a number of significant steps to review and improve the planning system and interface with citizens and stakeholders.
New Structure and Leadership
Council endorsed a new PDA structure in support of nextCITY in 2014 January. The new structure, which features four business units, supports the following:
- Achieves The City’s sustainability goals and objectives through integrated decision making
- Sets employees up to succeed by taking a more holistic approach to their work
- Ensures a consistent approach to customer-focused service resulting in an improved customer experience
The structure creates additional simplicity in current processes, provides more regular customer interaction, and will help align with the outcomes of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and Calgary Transportation Plan (CTP) for the long term growth of the City.
The four business units and the directors are introduced below.
- City Wide Policy & Integration – Whitney Smithers
This business unit is responsible for weaving together the policy and operational items that cross the boundaries of PDA business units and support the Department and The City as a whole. Whitney has worked as a professional planner and leader in Development & Building Approvals and Land Use Planning & Policy, and most recently led the Transforming Planning program.
- Local Area Planning & Implementation – Matthias Tita
This business unit brings together planning policy and implementation and is responsible for creating positive planning outcomes for the citizens of Calgary. Matthias joined the City in 1998 and has provided leadership for Land Use Planning and Policy over the last two years.
- Inspections & Permit Services – Kevin Griffiths
This business unit is responsible for first contact with customers, and high volume work including inspections, permits and applications for PDA. Kevin has been with the City for 15 years, serving most recently as the Chief Building Official and Manager of Building Regulations where he successfully streamlined a number of inspection services.
- Assessment– Nelson Karpa
This business unit, also characterized by high volume work, is responsible for the preparation of property and business assessments, and for maintaining the respect and trust of citizens and business owners in the assessment process. Nelson will continue to lead the Assessment business unit as he has since arrived in January 2013.
Strengthening the CPAG Structure
The CPAG process, first introduced in 1997, has proven to be an effective means of handling complex development applications. The model brings together specialized expertise in four key areas: Planning, Parks, Transportation and Urban Development. The subject matter experts for each area, known as Generalists, work as a team to ensure that all aspects and potential impacts of each application are carefully considered. Additional specialists from areas as diverse as Heritage and Fire, are brought into the process as required. Planning is the CPAG owner.
Findings from the Transforming Planning process and geORGe (the PDA structural alignment review), and experience gained during the June 2013 flood are the basis for the adoption of two new principles in structuring CPAG teams
- Reporting relationships that increase corporate accountability and ensure currency of expertise
Two immediate changes arise from the application of these principles. First, Parks and Transportation generalists will be physically moved to collocate with their CPAG teams in the municipal building; their reporting relationships will remain intact with their respective departments. Second, Urban Development generalists will remain physically collocated with their CPAG teams; and shift their reporting relationship to the Infrastructure Planning division in the department of Utilities & Environmental Protection (UEP). CPAG teams are part of the new Local Area Planning & Implementation business unit. The Urban Development Subdivision and Development Servicing sections will remain in PDA.
Next Steps and Timing
With the senior leadership team in place, final build out of the new structure, down to the division and section level, is underway. The configuration of the three new business units is based on the design criteria shared during consultation. High collaboration and high volume functions are more explicitly clustered; and specialized business support services are centralized, creating nodes of expertise and ensuring equal access to these resources across the department. The size of divisions has been adjusted based on the complexity of stakeholder demands on each function.
The next phase of staff allocation and city process will take approximately sixty days. Accordingly, May 1 2014 is the anticipated go live date for the complete new structure. Physical staff moves are expected to be concluded by the end of June. As the moves take place every effort will be made to mitigate any impacts on timelines. Until further notice, all contacts remain the same for applications and enquiries.
Questions? Please contact Erin.Ward@calgary.ca
Planning, Development & Assessment