Planning in a Tourist Town

November 18, 2019 in History, Travel

If you haven’t been to Banff National Park, I suggest you add it to your to do list. The Rocky Mountains, glacial lakes and expansive forests make it one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Town of Banff is a great spot as well — as the service centre for the park, you’ll find the renowned Banff Centre for the Arts, some delicious restaurants and boutique shops. You’ll also find a lot of tourists. The Town itself is 4 square kilometers with about 9,000 residents, yet it attracts over 4 million tourists a year. These circumstances lead to a unique set of challenges for the Town.

Last year, our team at Intelligent Futures wrote the Town’s Environmental Master Plan. The dual challenge of accepting visitors from around the world while also contributing to the conservation of the very landscapes that attract people is one of those wicked problems that can frustrate those who are trying to make it all work. 

Randall McKay has been Banff’s Director of Planning and Development since 1997. Today, we discuss the history of the Town and some of the challenges it faces regarding growth management, affordability, environmental conservation, and tourism. It’s a fascinating case study in balancing global economic factors right down to a very local context – which happens to be about an hour and a half from where I live. Let’s dive in.



November 4, 2019 in History

What are some special heritage buildings in your city? Do any spaces in particular reflect important aspects of your city’s history?

A lot of the time, people think of heritage as something that relates to history long ago – highlighting how cities were in previous centuries. Do events and buildings of 30 years ago count as heritage?

John sits down with some folks who have a deep understanding of heritage. So much so that they publish a magazine to tell stories of urban heritage through stunning archival images.

Tune in to hear RJ McCulloch and Megan Faulkner discuss their latest issue of Hindsight Magazine — 1989.


The Laws of Settlements

June 24, 2019 in Design, History

From a small Nova Scotia town to booming Barcelona to the mega-city of Jakarta, are there any laws that govern all human settlements? Are there consistent patterns that manage where people live, across scale and time? 

Back in the sixties, an architect and planner named Constantinos Doxiadis explored this question. He sought to understand the complexity and growth of human settlements. In his 1968 book called Ekistics: An Introduction to the Science of Human Settlements, Doxiadisspent 527 pages proposing a science of settlements. 

Today I am talking with Erick Villagomez, an urban designer, professor and writer in Vancouver who has revived and expanded on some elements of Doxiadis’ work. In 2017, Erick self-published a book called The Laws of Settlements.