Developing Story: Two key Vancouver planners move on

Matt Shillito and Scot Hein — two longtime staff in City of Vancouver’s planning department have given their notices.

Shillito, assistant director of planning, has been with the city for a decade. His last day is June 24. He’s moving back to England.

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“It’s been a great experience living in Vancouver and working at the city but it feels like the right time to reconnect with family and old friends, especially as our kids are hitting school age,” he told the Courier in an email.

Shillito was responsible for the Marpole and Grandview-Woodland community plans. He was also responsible for other area plans, including Mount Pleasant and Norquay, and for major projects such as River District, Oakridge, Little Mountain, Pearson-Dogwood and the Great Northern Way campus.

Kent Munro, another city assistant director of planning, is taking over the Grandview-Woodland plan, a transition that was going to happen regardless as the planning department is being reorganized on geographical lines.

Work on the Grandview-Woodland community plan and the Citizens’ Assembly won’t be delayed, according to the city. A memo on the plan is expected to go to council in June.

Asked to comment on his biggest accomplishment, Shillito told the Courier: “I’ve had the opportunity to work on so many large, complex and fascinating projects in a wonderful city with a very sophisticated planning culture. I can’t single out one piece of work because I’ve enjoyed and learned from aspects of all of them but some of my favourites include River District, the Central Waterfront Hub Plan, and Marpole Plan.”

Hein, a senior planner in the Urban Design Studio who’s been with the city for about 20 years, is retiring, according to Brian Jackson, the city’s manager of planning and development. Jackson said the studio started under Larry Beasley.

“It was a group of big thinkers — people who deal with big ideas as far as urban design is concerned,” he explained, adding Hein was behind the “really creative” sketches and drawings for some of the area plans that have gone through, as well as for some of the city policies and major applications.

“For both, it’s a huge loss for the department. It’s a huge loss for the city. Both are very talented planners and urban designers and it reflects the kind of robust market that we have right now for planners and urban designers, especially ones trained in Vancouver to be able to work wherever they want.”

Asked whether he’s surprised that Shillito and Hein decided to move on, Jackson responded: “I wasn’t surprised to see change in the department. This is a big department. I’m always sorry to see good people go — whether they decide to retire or move to England or move down the street.”

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