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Cultural Planning

Cultural planning is a place-based approach to planning and development.

It is a process for identifying and leveraging a community's cultural resources, strengthening the management of those resources, and integrating those resources across all facets of local planning and decision making.

The process takes into account how culture supports four essential pillars of sustainability:

  • Economic prosperity
  • Social equity
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Cultural vitality.

It is led by the group in charge of local planning decisions. This means that the municipality leads municipal cultural planning, while the Indigenous governing authority leads Indigenous cultural planning. Broad community engagement and endorsement is key to its success.

This is a map showing the 72 approved municipal cultural plans in Ontario. The key below indicates whether a plan is for a lower-tier municipality, an upper-tier municipality, a single-tier municipality or for a combination of these. You can access information on each municipality or group of municipalities and the year the plan was approved by clicking on the icons. Click the name of the municipality for a link to the plan, if available.

Have an update about your municipality? To let us know please contact your regional advisor (right-click to save to your computer)

Culture Planning Map Marker Legend
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Description Lower Tier Upper Tier Single Tier Combination

Download the Cultural Planning Map data as an .XLSX file.

The cultural planning process

While no one model is suitable for all cultural planning, the process, in general, has five important and distinct phases. Indigenous communities have a long history of integrating culture in all aspects of community life. Numerous First Nations in Ontario have completed mapping of their cultural resources.

Phase one: start-up

  • Confirm goals and priorities
  • Secure municipal approval to undertake cultural planning
  • Convene municipal staff working group/steering committee for the plan

Phase two: identify where we are

  • Planning context — determine the community's existing plans and priorities
  • Cultural mapping — identify the community's cultural resources
  • Cultural assessment — analyse the cultural resources' strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; determine how to connect them to the planning context.

Phase three: determine where we want to be

  • Define desired shared future — establish overall vision and strategic direction through consultation.
  • Consult and engage with municipal leaders and staff.
  • Undertake broad community engagement with all relevant stakeholders; this may include cultural organizations and businesses, other businesses, academic and community leaders, and community residents.

Phase four: determine how we get there

  • Draft a cultural plan that outlines the vision, roles and partnerships, strategies and actions; include a strategy to strengthen cultural resources management, a cultural administration and governance model (such as a culture department or cultural roundtable), and outline a monitoring and evaluation plan
  • Seek municipal governing authority approval to adopt the cultural plan.

Phase five: determine how culture becomes part of our everyday business

  • Ensure ongoing integration of culture in all facets of local planning and decision making (such as official plans, land use, economic development strategies, tourism strategies and integrated community sustainability plans) by adopting a cultural lens to all government decision making
  • Ensure ongoing updating of cultural mapping and cultural plan(s).

Resources and Tools

How-to guides

For more information and inspiration