VIU launches Canada's newest community planning school

Geography Professor Dr. Pam Shaw plays a key role in VIU’s new Master’s of Community Planning degree program.

November 3, 2014 - 12:15pm

Canada’s newest community planning school is opening its doors in Nanaimo, BC.

Vancouver Island University (VIU) is launching a new two-year Master of Community Planning degree program.

“We have completed all stages of the BC government’s degree quality assessment process, and are seeking accreditation by the Canadian Institute of Planners,” says Dr. Dave Witty, VIU Provost and Vice-President Academic. “Applications are now being accepted for the September 2015 intake.”

The Master’s program will focus on small city and town planning, community and urban design, and First Nations planning with special attention to the communities of coastal BC. The new degree program will also focus on sustainable economic issues, including tourism as well as emerging issues such as climate change and planning for post-fossil fuel communities.

“This special niche sets us apart from other BC and Canadian planning schools,” says VIU Geography Professor Dr. Pam Shaw. 

The program will draw on the expertise of faculty from within VIU’s Geography, Recreation & Tourism Management and Geographic Information System (GIS) departments. Students will benefit from small class sizes, quality instruction with high levels of student/professor contact, and strong community connections. 

“Practicing planners on Vancouver Island and elsewhere serve as adjunct professors, mentors, resource people and instructors in our undergraduate Geography program, and will be a major part of the new program,” adds Shaw.

The program will appeal to students aspiring to be registered planners, or those already working in the industry. According to Shaw, planning is a growing profession.

“A planning degree opens the door to many exciting opportunities,” she says. “Professional planners work for all levels of government, not for profit agencies, and consulting firms to advance the public good and improve the quality of life in communities and for citizens around the world.”

Potential careers include working for local or provincial governments or the private sector in areas of urban design, heritage preservation, environmental planning, transportation planning, sustainability, treaty negotiation or land use issues.

The VIU Master’s program will provide students with valuable hands-on research experience, applied learning and faculty who are experts in their field.  “VIU faculty have extensive award winning experience as practitioners in the field of community planning and design,” adds Shaw. “The new degree will link theory and practice in a meaningful way.”

In the past VIU Geography students have assisted with developing Official Community Plans for small communities including Bamfield and Toquaht First Nation. Today, Geography students are working with the City of Campbell River and the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association on an Action Plan to create positive change in Campbellton, while others are working on research projects within the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve.

VIU’s Master’s program will offer more of these opportunities for enrolled students.

“We pride ourselves on offering students at the undergraduate and graduate level exceptional opportunities for experiential learning,” says Shaw.

To be admitted into the program, students must hold a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university in any discipline, and meet certain admission criteria. For more information, email :or phone 250.753.3245 extension 2620 Toll-Free: 1.888.920.2221.

For more details, go to



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6288   E:

T: @viunews

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