Parks Planning and Design workers are responsible for overseeing the design and construction of public open spaces, and the planning of green spaces in a municipality. Job responsibilities include maintaining the design and construction standards for open spaces with a focus on constructing parks and trails that meet the needs a municipality today and in the future. A municipalities open spaces may include parks, interior trails, waterfront trails and conservation areas.

Parks Planning and Design worker expand and enhance municipalities diverse park systems by leading a variety of projects that will bring new amenities, programming opportunities, and maintain biodiversity in their community. Which may involve preparing park plans, leading public consultation processes, design development, tendering and project management for new parks, playgrounds, sportsfields, trails and natural areas.

Job titles may vary by organizations.

Biodiversity Conservation Planner

This position focuses on environmental planning, habitat restoration, citizen science monitoring and a host of other roles relating to conservation, planning, monitoring and public engagement. Biodiversity Conservation Planners typically work closely with Parks Planning, Engineering and Planning and Development Departments.

Reporting is typically to a municipality’s Urban Forestry or Park Planning Manager, This is a complex, professional position requiring considerable expertise to lead the cross-departmental implementation of a City’s policies and strategies relating to biodiversity conservation. Successful candidates for this role provide leadership, advice and direction to staff and external agents, participate in reviewing capital infrastructure and park development projects, and land development applications, in the context of bylaws, regulations and other policies across various levels of government.

Common Job Title:

  • Conservation Planner
  • Environmental Planner

Typical Job Responsibilities

  • Have expertise in regards to environmental regulations to coordinate and lead the implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy in conjunction with capital and operational maintenance programs carried out by various City Departments.
  • Prepare, review, analyze and process complex technical reports related to capital infrastructure projects, development applications and environmental restoration plans.
  • Liaise with other departments, consultants, municipalities, government agencies, and community and environmental groups.
  • Participate on team task forces and committees, and provide guidance and training to staff and external agents.
  • Make presentations to the public and technical committees on environmental reports in relation to policies, bylaws, land-use plans and the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy implementation.
  • Perform other duties as required.

Salary Range

Starting Salary: $52 per hour (2020 rate)


Biodiversity Conservation Planner – Pamela Zevit, City of Surrey

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to this profession?

A: I am a Registered Professional Biologist, with a particular focus on conservation biology, sort of a ‘buffet’ applied biology discipline that looks at the best approaches for protecting biological diversity, rare and common species, and how our (human) species’ needs and actions all fit together. I was always a bit if a biology/nature nerd from childhood (and proud of that!) but I did not pursue the biological sciences outright after high school. It wasn’t until after I finished university and was out in the workforce that I realized I had a passionate interest in what was happening to our biosphere. By then I had moved to BC and looked at what post-secondary programs could help me transition into an environmental science path. I ended up going to BCIT taking the 2-year Fish and Wildlife Program. After I graduated, I worked for the Province of BC as a Conservation Planner, then a number of years for a conservation non-profit working on species at risk. I started in my present role as Surrey’s Biodiversity Conservation Planner in March 2019.

Q: What does a day in your life on the job look like?

A: The Environmental Planner classification in Surrey Parks covers very diverse activities. While I call the Urban Forestry section home, my position collaborates and liaises across city departments

The core focus of the position is to implement and deliver on the goals and objectives of the City’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. On any given day I may be involved in a number of tasks and activities including:

  • Investigating the diversity of plant and animal species and ecological conditions across the City
  • Overseeing our evolving citizen science program to engage the community to help us understand how well biodiversity is doing in the City
  • Providing expertise and guidance on land use planning, environmental assessments, and policy development.
  • Assisting in the development of habitat restoration or enhancement plans.
  • Engaging with residents, business and industry interests on biodiversity conservation issues and actions.

Q: What is your favorite aspect about your job?

A: Working on collaborative actions that enhance our ability and understanding on how to conserve the natural world, then seeing how that contributes to society taking a greater interest in and caring for our natural capital.

Q: What are the reasons people would work in this field?

A: I think most biology professionals do what we do because we want to make a difference in how our species values and interacts with the natural world. The position offers a range of opportunities to apply skills and expertise in conservation, environmental monitoring and understand and contribute to the use of conservation science principles in decision making and land use planning.

Q: What would you say the most difficult thing about your job is?

A: Knowing that budgets are limited and that many decisions may ultimately be made at a higher level, issues which are often beyond your control.

Q: What are good traits or skills that someone should have when considering this career?

A: Ultimately this position is all about working with people (human beings). You need to have good empathy and communication skills and be able to understand a range of world views and value systems around nature. That is only part of the equation, you need to be very organized and stay current in the science, regulations and policies, as well as the professional obligations that define you as a biology professional.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in entering this role?

A: Take the time to gain experience in conservation – and working with people. Know that this sort of position is not static, it needs to evolve just like the science it is based on. You are going to be dealing with a diversity of (sometimes opposing) viewpoints and unexpected changes and differing priorities at higher levels that will affect what you are working on. You need to be flexible and adaptive and keep an open, and informed mind.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Certification

  • Competition of a University degree from a recognized post-secondary institution in a related discipline and a minimum of eight (8) years’ experience. An equivalent combination of education and experience may be considered.
  • Be registered as a Professional Biologist (R.P.Bio.).

Experience and Skills

  • Directly related experience with a municipality or other public sector organization is considered an asset.
  • Have a valid and unrestricted driver’s license with a safe driving record.

Landscape Architecture and Design

Landscape architecture takes a holistic view of the design, planning, management, and stewardship of the land. Landscape architects often work as members of a multidisciplinary team, for example with planners, ecologists, and engineers, on projects that can range from designing residential yards and parks to constructing wetlands to treating polluted runoff from former industrial sites. Landscape architects use art and science to create a balance between the needs and wants of people and the limitations of the environment.

Source: Eco Canada

Landscape Architect responsibilities include:

  • Prepare conceptual designs
  • Prepare presentation graphics and drawings to clients and prepare formal proposals
  • Inspects construction work in progress to ensure compliance with landscape specifications, to approve quality of materials and work and project is on budget
  • Knowledge and use of landscaping computer hardware and software
  • Estimate costs
  • Write specifications

Salary Range

Average hourly salary: is $44.83 per hour in British Columbia, which is 13% above the national average.

Source: indeed


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I’m Chris Marshall. I’ve been a Landscape Architect for nine years, the last three working with the Township of Langley. Before that I interned for 5 years. Here is my story…

QWhat do you love about your job?

A: It is a great mix of office design work yet you are also outside in the field and in the dirt.

QHow did you come to decide to pursue a career in this occupation?

A: I grew up working on golf courses and thought of careers in the design field, which lead me to landscape architecture.

QWhat are good traits or skills that someone should have when considering this career?

A: You need to have good creative processes and problem solving skills. I have a good ability to visualize things before they’re constructed – good 3D visualization abilities.

QWhat advice would you give someone considering a career in the Parks Sector?

A: Get experience building things outside. Construction experience is key. The American Society of Landscape Architects website ( has videos and exercises promoting landscape architecture as a career targeted towards high school aged individuals.

QDo you have any hiring practices tips to share?

A: The Township of Langley has a regimented process through the Human Resources Department but what I’ve found in the private sector is that construction experience is valuable. Be able to demonstrate that you can get out of the office and deal with contractors off site.

Laura Paaren is a Landscape Architectural Intern at Brydges Landscape Architecture. She studied at Guelph University in the Landscape Horticulture program and works as a designer/architect for residential homes across Ontario. Laura also had a hand in the design of this year’s Landscape Ontario garden at Canada Blooms.
The surrounding landscape has been revitalized by la Biennale di Venezia in collaboration with acclaimed Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander and Bryce Gauthier of Enns Gauthier Landscape Architects.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Skills

  • Post Secondary degree in the field
  • Able to balance a number of different demands and come up with a creative solution
  • Have an appreciation of design
  • Good communication skills
  • Have an understanding of related topics such as conservation, civil engineering, surveying, geology, horticulture and earth-moving techniques
  • Strong negotiating skills
  • Work well in a team and on their own initiative
  • Maintain good computer skills.

Landscape Design Technician

Reporting to the Manager, Green Infrastructure Services, in this unionized position you will join a dynamic multi-disciplinary team of professionals, applying your creativity, breadth of landscape architecture and development related knowledge and experience. The work is technical in nature and will require significant coordination with other Township departments.

Salary Range

Hourly salary range: $34.27 – $40.35 per hour (5 steps, 2020 rates)

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Skills

  • Graduation from a 2 year diploma program in Landscape Design, Urban Design or Landscape Architecture and a minimum of 2 years directly related experience, preferably with landscape construction experience
  • Strong interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills and thorough knowledge of landscape design principles and practices, landscape construction methods and skill in the use of computerized drafting and design software
  • Commitment to providing excellent customer service through teamwork, communication, and responsiveness


  • Membership or eligibility for membership in the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects
  • BC Class 5 (full-privilege) driver’s license or equivalent driver’s license for where you reside. You must include with your application a current Personal Driving Record (select the 5 years option if obtaining online) that has been obtained within 6 months of the closing date

Parks Development Review Coordinator

Parks Development Review Coordinator is responsible for enforcing and administering the Tree Preservation Bylaw. Responsibilities include coordinating parks input/comments on development related applications and conduct technical parks and tree related review of internal capital improvement projects. Which requires extensive knowledge of Tree Preservation Bylaws, arboriculture and horticulture principles and practices and a demonstrated ability to research and analyze information.

Salary Range

Hourly salary range: $42.79/hour

Based off 2018 Saanich job posting

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Certification

  • Secondary School graduation or equivalent;
  • Two year post-secondary education in the field of Arboriculture, Urban Forestry, Horticulture or Park Management from a recognized college or university with four years of experience in the administration of a tree preservation bylaw;
  • Certificate from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) as a Certified Arborist;
  • possession of an I.S.A. Certified Tree Risk Assessor Certificate;
  • possession of a valid B.C. Class 5 Driver’s Licence and a personal vehicle that meets the requirements described in the Transportation policy, available for use as and when required.

Parks Planner

In this role you will bring your inspiration and expertise to expand and enhance the City’s diverse park system by leading a variety of projects that will bring new amenities and programming opportunities to our community. This will involve preparing park plans, leading public consultation processes, design development, tendering and project management for new parks, playgrounds, sports fields, trails and natural areas. You will contribute to the development of the capital plan, review development proposals, prepare reports and recommendations, draft related by-laws and policy proposals for submission to City Council and liaise with a variety of internal and external contacts. You will also co-ordinate and attend public meetings attend City Council and Committee meetings when required, oversee consultant work, and provide expertise to larger-scale projects

Common Job Titles

  • Parks and Open Space Planner

Salary Range

Hourly salary range: $43.04 – $50.85 per hour (Pay Grade 28 January 2019 rates)


Park Planner -Nell

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to this profession

A: I actually got my bachelor’s of arts in political science and after I finished I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was living in Edmonton at the time and there was the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology has a landscape architecture technologist diploma so I thought I’d give that a try. It was something I really took to, working in the private company. After that I worked for a little bit in the industry in Edmonton and came over here [Vancouver] to do my masters.

Q: What made you switch to the city instead of a private company?

A: Couple of reasons. One of them would be definitely interested in public space and providing public amenity to the community. Private practice, yes, you get hired by municipalities, but a large proportion of the work is developer driven, so I was interested in doing public open space and the work-life balance is a little better than the public sector.

Q: What is your favorite aspect about your job?

A: Definitely implementing spaces that people are able to use and enjoy, that are a benefit to them. Whether that’s playgrounds, park spaces, plaza space or a trail, it is always really gratifying to see people are enjoying and using the spaces. Seeing them as benefits.

Q: What do your day to day activities look like?

A: Well, they are varied. There’s a lot of different things. Part of the work has to do with construction, certain projects will be done in house, or some will be done with consultants. For example if it was a project that is designed in house and built, we would put together the design, budgets, put drawings together and documents that are used to put the project out to tender to hire contractors to do it. Then, we oversee the contractor as they’re building and to see the completion of the project. If we hire consultants, it would probably be a larger project. [This is] about overseeing the consultant, ensuring that the design and the direction they are going with aligns with the objectives of the city. Then there’s also work to create the driving documents that are the framework for the city kind of a master plan of a particular part or aspect. I also do reviews, when the city gets an application for a development permit or rezoning permit. I will review them from an open space and urban design context. There are designers that look at the density and other parameters but i look at more of the qualitative aspects, what does it add to the public ground, how does it fit in with the larger urban design of the city, are there any open space benefits that can be achieved with the project. So i add comments to that. I also respond to inquiries from the public. Someone might email or call me and asking a question about whether a particular park can be improved or there’s an issue with a certain thing. Some inquiries may be an operation or maintenance issue, but where it’s something that requires an aspect of designing the park, or redevelopment, then I will respond to those.

Q: How do you go about implementing your creative ideas into park planning?

A: Being a representative of the city, there’s a lot of freedom to implementing creative ideas. But of course, always go to public consultations. For example, if it’s a new playground or park project, we will do a public consultation asking what they think they need for the park or we may go to an advisory committee to develop a program of needs for that space. Whether its an in-house project or we are hiring a consultant, we will start coming up with ideas. [Includes] in-house drawings, putting together diagrams, etc. Then we go through another two phases of consultation. So once we have some options of what the project could be we’ll go to a public open house and to more advisory committees and ask them for their favourite things they like or dislike. And based on that we will choose the preferred option or direction and test it another time with another consultation to gage whether we heard what the public wanted. From there we will put together our first tender package with drawings and specifications and construction drawings. So, there’s lots of opportunity for problem-solving and creativity in all those stages.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in entering this role

A: For someone interested in entering this role, I would recommend a well-rounded education in landscape architecture and urban design as this is a multifaceted role with a varied scope. I think spending some time in the private sector is helpful in developing perspective and a set of skills that will help in this public sector role. Also, observation of local parks, public spaces and urban environments is very important to understand what makes good spaces that people love. Travel is good for that but there is also lots to see and learn locally and in the region. I am also a big believer in reaching out to professionals in the field early on to get a sense of what the role is like and always to be reassessing where you are in terms of education, career, and personal life so you can make adjustments and ensure you’re on the path you want to be on.

Required Skills, Training and Education

Education and Experience:

  • A university graduate degree in planning, landscape architecture or a related discipline with extensive and progressive municipal experience at a professional level (minimum of 10 years’ experience is preferred); or an equivalent combination of education and experience is required Membership or eligibility for membership in the Canadian Institute of Planners or Canadian Society of Landscape Architects is desired

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Familiarity with and knowledge of City’s Parks and Recreation system, land use, municipal planning and development processes; capital development delivery processes; sustainable development and green infrastructure.
  • Demonstrated experience in all of the following areas is highly desired: Parks and community recreation and leisure physical planning policy and management; Recreation resource and facility planning, parks and recreation planning, park system master planning; Current trends in parks and recreation provision and policy
  • Proven ability developing planning policy in a multi-stakeholder environment Proven ability scoping and developing work programs Managing complex and controversial planning and policy project Creative problem solving including public consultation Preparation and presentation of reports which clearly communicate complex idea

Other essential skills:

  • Lead and participate in teams involving diverse interest groups using facilitation Conflict resolution and interest-based mediation skills to achieve mutually agreeable solutions
  • Manage and mentor staff for broader responsibilities in policy research and planning Exercise initiative and sound judgment in dealing with work load
  • Work in a changing environment while delivering of complex projects on time and on budget