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The Globe and Mail

Vision Vancouver seeks chief misinformation officer


Job Title: Director of Planning, City of Vancouver

Salary Range: $180K to $210K depending on experience

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Competition Closes: April 1, 2012

Can you do impossible things?

Do you respond well to political pressure, rapidly changing expectations, reactionary policy and conflicting instructions?

Do you like being publicly interrogated by elected officials, some of them complete novices who may have no idea what they're talking about?

Can you answer stupid questions from the media with authority, while maintaining an expression of empathy and not rolling your eyes?

Are you good at coining catch phrases?

Do you remind people of Anderson Cooper?

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Do you have a surname that is pronounced as it's spelled?

Do you ride a bike?

Then consider this opportunity to lead the team that will shape the future of what was, until quite recently, consistently rated as The Most Livable City in the World.™

The City of Vancouver's Director of Planning is the city's senior representative in the planning and negotiation of major private and public developments and oversees more than 100 staff members.

We're looking for a candidate with a winning smile, the oratory skills of Martin Luther King, the persuasive powers of a Jedi master, and good hair.

As director, you will provide solutions to a number of current challenges facing the City of Vancouver and oversee their implementation. If you succeed, one of your new developer friends may even name a building after you, providing you have supplied them with the density bonus they demanded for saving a nearly worthless heritage structure 59 blocks away.

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Your job will be to bridge the gap between greedy, faceless, leaky condo developers and community groups that will oppose everything.

You will convince developers that red tape and regulatory impediments have been reduced so their project may be fast-tracked.

You will convince members of the public and other stakeholders that under no circumstance does the city fast-track developments. This will be done through an endless series of public information meetings in various community centres and church basements in which you will personally reassure neighbourhood residents that no decision will be made until their opinion has been considered.

Specific Action items:

Affordability: The City of Vancouver has recently been rated the second least affordable city in the world. As Director of Planning, you will be expected to reverse this trend while never referring to the STIR program in public. Ever.

Density: You will convince established single-family neighbourhoods (South Cambie, Riley Park, Kerrisdale, Shaughnessy, Dunbar) that radical increases in density will improve neighbourhood character and not adversely impact property values, traffic and parking, or crime rates.

Alternative Housing: Work with the city's housing department and communications staff to forward the idea that living in a basement suite, shipping container or above a garage is "cool."

Economic Activity: You will use the zoning bylaws and other incentives to assist in the creation of high-paying jobs in the green technology/high-tech sectors.

Greenest City Initiative: All of the above will be measured in the context of Vancouver's desire to become the Greenest City in North America.™

Livability: Work with communications staff to redefine "livable."

Public Engagement: You will build on the success of meaningless but cleverly titled feel-good campaigns that produced no tangible results. You will direct renters unable to find suitable and affordable rental accommodation to the city's, "Maybe You're Just Not Looking Hard Enough" information package.


Successful applicants will have a university degree in planning, architecture, engineering or a related field, as well as considerable experience as a leader in the planning department of a major metropolitan area. As well, you will have a proven track record of repeating the word "yes" over and over again, and not asking too many questions.

Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One in Vancouver, 88.1 FM and 690 AM.

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