Eight months after firing chief planner Marilyn Ball, along with removing 24 other managerial positions, the City of Brampton hired a new head of planning.
Rob Elliot was hired away from the Region of Peel. He was the region’s former Director of Development Services, and will now be Brampton’s Commissioner of Planning and Development Services. Elliot was with the region for 22 years in various planning positions, and rose steadily through the ranks.
The city has also hired internationally-acclaimed urban planner Larry Beasley, the former co-chief planner of the City of Vancouver.
Beasley is tasked with “[developing] a ‘future ready’ vision that will position Brampton as a North American leader in urban planning and design,” according to a city press release.
Beasley’s vision is responsible for the major redevelopment of inner-city Vancouver. He’s known for having made it one of the most livable cities in the world.
His work and practice are recognized across the globe, for work done in Dallas, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, and Rotterdam.
Additionally, he is a member of the Order of Canada and has won the MIT Kevin Lynch Prize for urban planning.
It appears Beasley will attempt to pivot Brampton and make the city a stronger player along the so-called Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor, which is focused on innovation and technology industries.
“I believe Brampton has the elements in place to make it a model for the transformation of suburban communities for maximum livability, sustainability and resiliency,” he says.
Beasley’s work in Dallas reconciled the relationship between the city and its river, an important concept as Brampton moves forward on its “Riverwalk” project to revitalize the Etobicoke Creek.
What might worry some residents, or please them, is the Beasley’s Vancouver model calls for the mixing of residential unit types, both rental and owner-occupied, as well as mixed-incomes, to create complete communities.
He’s also an advocate for the gentle “densification” of the suburbs. Considering the opposition some residents have towards any form of density, and an apparent animosity towards rental units, this could create division.
In recent months, Brampton’s planning department was led on an interim basis by Heather MacDonald. It’s unknown if MacDonald will return to her former position.
The department handles issues of building, development services, policy, urban design, and transportation planning.