*What is a Milestone?

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The Vancouver City Planning Commission(VCPC) has initiated a project to create a chronology of milestones in Vancouver’s planning and development history.
This page describes the purpose and scope of the project:

  • What is a milestone?
  • What milestones is the VCPC interested in?

Generic Definition[edit]

A significant stage or event in the development of something.[1]
Example: the invention of the electron microscope was a milestone in diagnostic medicine.
Synonyms: landmark, significant event, achievement, highlight,watershed, benchmark, touchstone

Why Identify Milestones in Vancouver's Planning and Development?[edit]

Learning about a city requires an appreciation of the web of events, decisions and interactions that have been significant in shaping that city as a unique urban settlement.
As an advisory body of volunteers appointed by Council with a broad mandate to consider and advise Council on matters relating to the future of Vancouver, the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) organizes conferences, competitions, presentations and research on a variety of topics including housing, public realm, transportation, public engagement and neighbourhoods. The VCPC seeks to ground this future-oriented work in an understanding of the legacy of the past. Background information prepared for special projects and events often includes a chronology of key events in Vancouver’s urban development and planning history to establish the context for the discussion.
Knowing and understanding the things which have shaped and contributed to the Vancouver of today enables the many participants in Vancouver’s life, from politicians and civil servants to residents and workers, to better participate as informed actors in the myriad day-by-day activities that is the life of the city, and especially in the decisions which can change the life of the city.

Milestones, not History[edit]

Excellent histories of Vancouver and numerous useful thematic chronologies have been written over the years, including The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver (2011) and Bruce Macdonald’s Vancouver: A Visual History (1992).
There are also several chronologies of Vancouver’s history and historical timelines online. These have been prepared by organizations and individuals reflecting a broad range of perspectives. And many chronologies of key events have been prepared by the VCPC over the years, but none provide a comprehensive chronology of milestones in the planning and development of Vancouver.
But there is no listing of milestones, including an explanation of their significance, which helps us understand how Vancouver evolved as the unique city it is today.
This project will draw on the rich historical material that has been produced, including histories and timelines, to create a list of planning and development milestones.

Test of Significance[edit]

To qualify as a milestone, an event* must have been significant or transformative in the shaping of Vancouver’s development, growth and evolution.

  • a milestone *event can be a discrete event, or it can be an action, decision, program, incident, plan, policy or similar occurrence or phenomenon.

Contributors are invited to give special attention to the heading Significance in the Milestones template as the place to offer perspectives and insights why the topic being added should be considered a milestone.

Examples of Milestones[edit]

An excellent example of a set of milestones are the decisions described by authors Mike Harcourt, Ken Cameron and Sean Rossiter in City Making in Paradise (2007). After summarizing three “acts of conscious city making” in the nineteenth century and then the city’s evolution over the first half of the twentieth century, they focus on “nine of the regional decisions made since 1945 that contributed to the transformation of Greater Vancouver into one of the world’s most livable cities.”
For more examples, see the evolving list of milestones being identified for this project on the wiki Milestones page.


  1. Oxford Dictionaries