Urban Planner

I spent the day with Mark Yarranton, a partner and urban planner for KLM Planning. Mark has been an urban planner for a long time and knows his industry inside and out. In fact, he showed me a recent a project of his that is particularly difficult and important. In 1970, an Air Canada flight crashed into a field in Brampton, Ontario. The site has since been used for agriculture, but is now in the process of becoming a subdivision. Mark had to plan the subdivision, but also be mindful of the crash site and its remaining debris. After a lot of work, the plans were finalized and Mark planned a memorial around the crash site which was on the edge of a valley. The whole subdivision was affected by this and it was definitely a challenge to plan. In the end, the plans looked great and after his explanation, it’s really quite smart.

Before we went back to his office and looked at some of his plans, I went with Mark to a meeting at city hall. Meeting with us were two clients, Mark’s assistant and then the city officials, an administrator, a landscape architect, a bylaw expert, and I think a planner. There were certain improvements to be made to the client’s property like new handicap signs to be installed and more plants to be planted. Mark went through the plan with the city and basically explained that all the work has been done. I was amazed by the depth of detail they talked about. They even had to make sure the plants were the city approved ones.

Overall, to be a good urban planner you have to be very detail oriented, focused, and able to plan around specific needs.  

A Typical Day

Urban planners meet with clients, create plans, and meet with city officials to approve plans everyday.

Top 3 Perks

1) An opportunity to help out the environment 

2) Working with co-workers on projects 

3) Seeing your ideas come to life

Job Culture

Meeting with architects and other professionals, emailing, lots of phone calls, solving problems, developing presentation materials, researching, sketching, using computer programs


1) Have a degree in urban planning 

2) Pass an exam

- TIP: To get ahead you can complete a master’s degree in urban planning

Skills Needed

Communication, negotiation skills, detail-oriented, patience, problem solving, sketching and visual skills

The Field

- You can work privately or for the government

- Planning has become easier with technology

- Because of planning regulations and the nature of the work some projects can take a while to finish