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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.

To get the process of cultural planning started, this ministry and its partners:

  • Delivered 13 forums and nine workshops between 2005 and 2009
  • Spoke (in English and French) with 2,135 citizens from 235+ Ontario municipalities (including all 29 regional municipalities and four First Nations.

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 Aboriginal governing authority leads Aboriginal cultural planning. Broad community engagement and endorsement is key to its success.

Click here to contact your regional advisor and let us know what your community is doing.

The Cultural planning process

While no one model is suitable for all cultural planning, the process, in general, has five important and distinct phases. Aboriginal cultural planning is still evolving; it may eventually require additional or specific phases.

Phase one: start-up

  • Confirm goals and priorities
  • Secure approval by municipal or Aboriginal governing authority to undertake cultural planning
  • Convene local municipal or Aboriginal governing authority staff working group and steering group 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 or Aboriginal 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 or Aboriginal 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).

Funding and Tools