The Northern Planning Conference

Planning the New North

February 15th-17th, 2016 at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon

Regional land use planning in the north has been taking place in various forms for over 50 years.  Territorial, Federal and Aboriginal Governments use regional planning as the preferred method to inform land use decisions, create certainty, and balance the economic, social, cultural and environmental needs and priorities of northern Canada.   The north is changing - climate change, settlement of land claims, northern co-management and governance, access and global demand of the North’s natural resources and the opening of the northwest passage are all contributing to what is being defined as the ‘New North’ (Smith, 2011).  Regional plans are and will be a key resource in helping inform the future decisions of the north.


Some would argue that land use planning has had limited success in the north.  Plans are expensive, take a very long time to complete and have created conflicts and regulatory uncertainty (which is what planning is envisioned to avoid).  It is therefore important that northern land use planners and integrated resource managers from Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut come together to share their successes and challenges and examine new ways to move forward with planning in the north that addresses the challenges and opportunities.

The Conference will involve planners from across Canada’s north, integrated resource managers, northern economic and social experts and aboriginal, territorial, provincial and federal government representatives.  The vastness of the north, the differing planning processes, isolation and remoteness and the linkages of transportation and knowledge north - south have led to a fragmentation of northern planning knowledge. Regional land use and community planners and northern experts are invited from the circumpolar region including: Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Alaska, Labrador, the northern regions of Canada’s provinces, Nunatsiaq, Nunavik and Scandinavia to create a northern planning network.

The intent is to share, learn, build capacity and establish a northern planning network. The conference planning committee with their partners (APPI, PIBC, Governments of Yukon, NWT and Nunavut  and Yukon Land Use Planning Council) will issue a call for papers in beginning of October. A poster session is also included providing another opportunity to highlight northern regional land use planning.

The Key Themes:

  • Governance – the Planning Context
  • Planning for Change and Sustainability – how do we protect valued components amongst the changes?
  • The Future of Northern Planning – new plans for the ‘New North’
  • Planning Methods in the North – planning approaches and techniques for northern plan

The objectives of the conference are to:

  • Develop and share ways forward to ensure northern planning is relevant, timely, cost effective and working;
  • Share northern planning experiences;
  • Share and learn from northern planning successes, failures, challenges and solutions;
  • Develop a northern professional planning network;
  • Identify and develop links to other planning processes and professionals;
  • Create professional planning awareness with the profession, the governments and northerners;
  • Build trust in the land use planning process; and
  • Build northern land use planning capacity.

Key Note Speaker – Laurence Smith, Author of the New North: the World in 2050

Laurence Smith Professor at UCLA Berkley argues that ‘ The northern quarter of our planet’s latitudes will undergo tremendous transformation over the course of this century, making them a place of increased human activity, higher strategic value and greater economic importance than today’.  Smith suggests that Canada and Greenland will lead the change in the new north: democracy, climate change, new governance models (aboriginal, Inuit) and increasing global demand for natural resources.

Conference Lead Sponsor  – Yukon Land Use Planning Council

Conference Coordinator – Lesley Cabott: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


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