SHIFT Annual Planning Conference

Each year the our School of Planning, together with government and community partners, hosts an annual conference during the winter semester. The purpose of the conference is to bring together planning students and faculty, planning professionals, community groups, policymakers, and interested citizens to discuss and debate current topics in planning and community design. 

Conference themes are chosen for their immediate relevance to the wider community. An effort is made to link these themes with related activities occurring elsewhere in Halifax and across the province. 

The conference is primarily organized by students.

Hosted along with the Licensed Professional Planners Association of Nova Scotia (LPPANS), Shift 2024: Growing Pains, will examine how we can better plan for the opportunities and challenges posed by rapid urban growth. 

Register now to take part in Shift 2024.

Past Conference Topics & Information

Shift Planning Conference, 2023

On March 10th, 2023, the 33rd annual Shift Planning Conference was held at Alderney Landing. This year's theme was 'Raising all Boats' and brought together planning students and faculty, policymakers, planning professionals, scholars, and interested community members to discuss the issues that Nova Scotians face each day.

Shift Connect, 2021

With more people having to work from home, and less physical interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are now finding creative ways to connect virtually. The conference will discuss the opportunities and challenges with this new way of connecting and what that means for the future of our cities.

Equity, 2020

Shift Equity included conversations about accessibility, affordable housing, and age-friendly cities. Keynote speakers were Ted Rutland and David Wachsmuch. 

Click here for the final report.

Equity, 2019

Shift Equity included conversations about accessibility, affordable housing, and age-friendly cities. Keynote speakers were Richard Milgrom from the University of Manitoba and Catherine Hamel from the University of Calgary.

Click here for the final report.

Streets, 2018

Shift Streets was dedicated to reshaping the way we think about streets.

Click here for the final report.

InTransit, 2017

Shift InTransit encouraged conversations about how transit planning in the Halifax Regional Municipality can improve. Guests from the US and Canada discussed how they have made efforts to make their transit systems more equitable, sustainable, and user-friendly. Workshops on rural transit planning and HRM's new Integrated Mobility Plan were among the activities for participants.

Click here for the final report.

Engage, 2016

This year's conference explored community engagement. How do we work with communities in more creative, empowering, and inclusive way? Guest speakers included Randolph Hester, Jim Diers and Tim Merry.

Click here for the final report.

Resilience, 2014

Resilient communities adapt to the challenges of climate change, energy crises, aging population and unforeseen problems. In the face of an uncertain future, how can Nova Scotia plan and design for all seasons and cycles?
Are we doing all we can to prioritize health and happiness? How will the Halifax Regional Muncipality adapt to these challenges and build a better future?

Density, 2013

The 2013 conference explored the possibilities and limitations of a denser city. Is density a necessity? What are the implications of living, working and playing closer together in bigger and taller buildings?

Imagine Your City 100 Years from Now, 2011

Play, 2010

This conference's playful sessions focused on four sub-themes of design, accessibility, informal and formal environments, and health and wellness in relation to play.

Conference minutes are available here:
PLAY: A City to Plan In is a City to Stay In

Sustainable Action: Turning Challenges Into Opportunities, 2009

The conference explored the increasingly important topic of sustainability and the economy, including questions about the future development and growth of our municipality, province, and nation. The conference was organized around the themes of how we eat, how we move, how we spend, and how we act. 
The conference proceedings are available here:
Sustainable Action: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Putting the 'U' in Neighbourhood, 2008

Neighbourhoods are the places where we play, live and grow. They not only affect the form of our cities but our individual experiences and lives. The conference explored the role of neighbourhoods from a social, cultural, and physical perspective and challenged Haligonians to consider what they value in their neighbourhoods. The keynote address, Peter Park, Manager of Community Planning and Development was held in partnership with the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s Carmichael Lecture Series. Landscape architect/professor Randolph Hester and environmental planner/associate professor Marcia McNally were brought in from the University of California Berkeley, in part through a partnership with the Dorothy J. Killam Memorial Lecture Series. 
The conference proceedings are available here: 
Putting the ‘U’ in Neighbourhood

Bringing the Transit Home, 2006

Transit impacts the community physical and social environment, affecting the quality of life experienced by its residents. This conference brought leaders in transit, the public, and students together to develop a guiding vision for the future of transit in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). Conference discussions and workshop emphasized the transforming power of transit. Todd Litman, from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, was the keynote speaker. 
The vision document is available here:
A Vision for Transit in HRM

Welcoming Winter, 2004

Together with planners and other professionals, students, and interested citizens, participants explored how to make our communities more comfortable and functional places in the winter season. 
The conference proceedings are available here:
Welcoming Winter: Changing the Climate of Planning

Breaking Ground: Greening the Urban and Regional Landscape, 2002

n partnership with the Evergreen Foundation and the Ecology Action Centre, this conference was one of five to take place across Canada on the theme of “Breaking Ground - Greening the Urban and Regional Landscape.” Together, these conferences played a part in the Evergreen Canada Initiative intended to help “connect communities with nature.”
The conference proceedings are available here:
Breaking Ground: Greening the Urban and Regional Landscape

Other Past Topics

  • Making Great Streets
  • Coastal Planning
  • Halifax in Motion
  • Centers in the Region
  • Which way should Metro Grow