Our History

The School of Community and Regional Planning has a rich history as one of the first dedicated planning schools in Canada and the first planning school in North America to be specifically focused on sustainability through its mission statement.  

Our History as a Timeline

Click the chart below for a larger visual history, or read below for a more narrative chronicle.

SCARP Timeline

1951The School is opened. Peter Oberlander is appointed Director.
H. Peter Oberlander
1958First three Master's students graduate
1968First doctoral student admitted
1970SCARP first accredited by U.S. Planning Accreditation Board
1971First doctoral student graduates
1977Brahm Wiesman becomes Director of the School
Brahm Wiesman
1988Alan Artibise becomes Director of the School
Alan Artibise
1994William Rees becomes Director of the School


William Rees

SCARP adopts Sustainability Mission statement: To advance the transition to sustainability through excellence in integrated policy and planning research, professional education and community service
1995Student Curriculum Report: Planning for the 21st Century
1996Draft Proposals for Revising the Master's Degree Program
1997Student Report: What Do Canadian and American Planning Schools Say They Do?
1999Re-Accreditation Reviews by U.S. Planning Accreditation Board and Canadian Institute of Planners; reports







Tony Darcey

Tony Dorcey becomes Director of the School
School Management Committee established - faculty, staff and student representatives meet monthly
SCARP web site provides details of degree programs and courses
2000Canadian Association of Planning Students (CAPS) annual conference organized by SCARP students
Introduction of annual community-based planning course in interior of B.C. - Royston on Vancouver Island - wins PIBC Honourable Mention
2001SCARP students engage campus sustainability and development
PlanTalk introduced, a downtown series of discussions organized by PIBC Lower Mainland Chapter and SCARP students
Professional Research Project introduced as alternative to Master's Thesis
2002SCARP faculty first post statements of their individual Perspectives on Sustainability Planning
Planning Education for All Seasons: Integration and Diversity in Theory and Practice - a workshop with planning academics and practitioners from across Canada, convened as one of the School's 50th anniversary events
West Mall Annex renovated and the Centre for Human Settlements (CHS) relocates from the other side of the campus
2003Review of SCARP's Quantitative and Analytical Courses
SCARP launches the first bi-annual, week-long North American PhD Student Jamboree
2004Re-Accreditation reviews by U.S. Planning Accreditation Board and Canadian Institute of Planners
2005Master's curriculum review report; and School discussion of report
2006SCARP Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Overview Prepared for Search for a New Director


Leonie Sandercock

SCARP receives the 2005-2006 Peter Larkin Award, which is granted to a UBC graduate program for contributions to student development in honour of Dr. Larkin’s commitment and passion for teaching and graduate education
Planners for Tomorrow organized by SCARP students as CAPS annual conference and to coincide with the World Urban Forum in Vancouver. Report: Planners for Tomorrow (P4T): Student Perspectives on the Future of Planning in Canada
Leonie Sandercock becomes Director of the School
2007School faculty retreat reaffirms SCARP mission statement and goals; also decides to rejuvenate the Centre for Human Settlements with a new mission, focusing on research and engagement addressing an urban world in sustainability crisis
Penny Gurstein becomes Acting Director of the School


Penny Gurstein

2008Penny Gurstein becomes Director of the School and announces development of strategic plan
2010SCARP celebrates its 60th anniversary
2012SCARP moves its administrative home to the Faculty of Applied Science
Indigenous Community Planning Specialization starts at SCARP
2015Master of Community and Regional Planning degree program commences


More on some key parts of SCARP history
The Centre for Human Settlements

The Centre for Human Settlements (HRC) was a unit within SCARP. It involved faculty and student associates from various departments at UBC in multidisciplinary research and capacity-building programs related to regional, urban, and community development. CHS' many publications disseminated the results of its research and reported on its training and consultancy activities. In 1990, CHS was named a "Centre of Excellence" in human settlements planning by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The Centre was first created as a legacy of the 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT) that was held in Vancouver and resulted in the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements. CHS originally housed the collection of audio video presentations by each participating nation in the HABITAT Conference.

People Involved
  • Leonora Angeles, Associate Professor
  • Peter Boothroyd, Professor Emeritus
  • Erika de Castro, Project Manager, Habitat Exchange
  • Stephanie Chang, Professor
  • Tony Dorcey, Professor
  • John Friedmann, Honorary Professor
  • Lawrence Frank, Professor & J. Armand Bombardier Chair in Sustainable Urban Transportation Systems
  • Penny Gurstein, Professor and Director, SCARP
  • Thomas Hutton, Professor & Associate Director, SCARP for CHS
  • Michael Leaf, Associate Professor & Chair of Masters Program, SCARP
  • Timothy McDaniels, Professor
  • Andrea Procyk, Project Coordinator, Bombardier Active Transportation Lab
  • William Rees, Professor
  • Leonie Sandercock, Professor & Chair of PhD Program, SCARP
  • Maged Senbel, Assistant Professor
  • Mark Stevens, Assistant Professor
CHS Research and Projects

Research Clusters


  • Active Transportation Lab Projects
  • Climate Justice Project
  • Developing a conceptual framework for understanding provincial legislative efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in BC
  • Evaluating the Quality of Official Community Plans in Southern British Columbia: Are Municipalities Prepared to Promote Sustainable Development Patterns
  • Habitat Exchange
  • Informality Governance in Peri-Urban SE Asia
  • NEWPATH: Built environment influences on diet, physical activity, and obesity: a transdisciplinary approach
  • Systems under stress: An investigation of community resilience to natural disasters
  • Analyzing Infrastructures for Disaster-Resilient Communities
  • Asian Urban Research Network
  • Community Based Watershed Management in Santo André, S.P., Brazil
  • Education for Democratic Planning in Sri Lanka
  • EMERGENCE: Education and Mapping of Employment Relocation in a Global Economy in the New Communications Environment
  • Gender and Development Network
  • Government Responses to Poverty and Income Inequality and their Effects on Children and Families
  • Hanoi Authority for Planning and Investment
  • Localized Poverty Reduction in Vietnam
  • Mitigation of Extreme Event Risk: The Case of Electric Power
  • Multi-level Governance in Canada: the Vancouver Essay
  • New Public Consortia for Metropolitan Governance, Brazil (NPC Project)
  • Neighbourhood Planning in Quanzhou, Fujian, China
  • Project for Promoting Participatory Budgeting in Canada: Building Community Capacity for Deliberative Local Governance in the Greater Vancouver Region
  • Social dynamics of economic performance: Innovation and creativity in city-regions
  • Sustainable Water Resources Management in the Beijing-Tianjin Region, China
  • The role of Coastal Ecosystem Degradation in Tsunami Damage

Resources for CHS materials

The Habitat Archive

This archive contains digital versions of original documents, videos and other items produced for the first and second United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements held in 1976 in Vancouver, Canada, and in 1996 in Istanbul, Turkey.