case studies

Case 1

William Pace is a young planner employed with the Community Planning Department of a rapidly growing suburban municipality in Ontario. He has taken a much deserved holiday and visits Las Vegas for a few days after a week of skiing in Colorado. On the evening of his first day in Vegas he sees his Planning Director having dinner and taking in a show at one of the casinos. He also recognizes a man standing at her table talking to his Director as Melvin Macho, a major developer in the community where both Pace and his Director work. While William thinks it unusual to see the Planning Director in Las Vegas, and speaking with Macho, he thinks little more of it. Two days later William is at the airport and about to catch his flight back home when he sees the Director and Macho once again. This time they are at the airport and both are climbing aboard Machos private jet.

When William returns to work on the following Monday, he is confused as to how to he should proceed. He knows that Macho has a significant land development application about to be reviewed by the Planning Committee as he has done extensive work on it himself over the past several months. The young planner considers speaking directly to his superior about the fact that he saw her in Las Vegas. He also considers speaking instead to the municipalitys legal counsel. How should he proceed?

  1. What are the ethical issues associated with this case?
  2. Outline the line of reasoning that you would create to determine what William should do. Set out the argument in logical order and identify the Premises, Inferences and Conclusions.
  3. What would be the specific action that William should take?
  4. Identify which sections of the OPPI Code of Conduct would give guidance on this matter?

Case 2

Joshua Kent is a planning consultant with twenty years of practice experience in the Greater Toronto and Southern Ontario area. His firm specializes in land use planning and design and has a number of private and public sector clients across many municipalities. Kent, as one of the principals of the firm, usually takes the lead in giving expert testimony before various boards, tribunals and municipal Councils.

He has also been an active member of his community, serving on a number of volunteer committees including a Parent-Teacher Council within the local School Board. Based on his accomplishments on the Parent-Teacher Council he has recently won election as a Trustee on the local School Board and has been named the Chair of the powerful Finance Committee and as a member of the Boards Real Estate and Assets Committee.

Kents firm has recently been engaged by the local School Board to assist in gaining Council approval for the redevelopment of a surplus elementary school property. The subject school is dramatically under-enrolled and in need of a costly upgrade of electrical and mechanical systems. However, the local community does not wish to see the school redeveloped as another land use. They argue that the school continues to play a significant role within the neighbourhood as a focus of community activity and much needed play space. The local newspaper has given considerable coverage to the concerns of the local residents.

Robert Cobb, Editor of the local newspaper, has accused Kent of being in a clear conflict of interest with respect to the school site slated for redevelopment. Cobb argues that Kent cannot possibly be qualified as an expert witness before the municipal Council or the Land Tribunal, given his position on the School Board. Kent however, feels that Cobb is being grossly unfair and says so in a published letter of response to the Editor. Kent suggests that Cobb has his own agenda related to the school and is using the accusation of a conflict of interest to advance his own interests. In his letter Kent also argues that he knows full well what his obligations as an expert witness are and that he has demonstrated many times in the past that he has been able to perform that role to a high professional standard.

  1. Identify the ethical issues that appear in the case.
  2. Construct the argument (line of reasoning) for what Kent should do as a Registered Professional Planner and Member of OPPI. Set out the argument in logical order and identify the Premises, Inferences and Conclusions.
  3. What specific sections of the OPPI Code of Practice would apply?