The Canadian Association of Planning Students ‐ L’Association Canadienne des Étudiants en Aménagement et Urbanisme (CAPS‐ACÉAU) is a national non-profit organization connecting urban, rural, regional planning and related interdisciplinary students in Canada. Since its creation in 1984, CAPS‐ACÉAU has provided delegates with professional development programs, high profile venues to present their innovative research, and an opportunity to network with other leaders and professionals in their field from across the country.

The primary objective of the organization is to organize and host the CAPS‐ACÉAU conference, held in a different Canadian city each year over the course of three days, bringing together delegates (ie. students and people with a passion for planning) from across Canada as well as a variety of professors and professionals in the field.


1.1 Mandate The mandate of CAPS‐ACÉAU is to organize the annual conference. The conference, which takes place over three days, creates a platform for exchange, dialogue, and presentations on important issues relating to innovative planning in urban, rural, and regional contexts. This is a grass‐roots participatory planning initiative that is volunteered-based with the collaboration of students, sponsors, mentors and industry professionals.

1.2 Mission This organization is a non‐profit autonomous organization that will ensure transparency through consensus based decision making, accountability through sound financial and administrative practices, and sustainable development through dedicated long‐term volunteer commitment.


Cultivating Leadership, Sparking Innovation

Canada's premier grass roots participatory planning organization is expanding, now offering volunteers something to look forward to all year long. Our 3-day student conference  - happening every year since 1984 - will remain the highlight for all volunteers running this dynamic organization. We have established a presence at national, provincial, and local planning conferences, offering delegates added value when attending, but also connecting the planning profession with talented students who will become tomorrow's future leaders in the industry.  This communications initiative aims to detail strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and constraints to profile how CAPS-ACEAU is strategically spearheading its 32nd anniversary with a grass roots participatory planning approach that is 100% non-profit.

Change is occurring at the forefront of every frontier, in government, our cities, neighbourhoods, communities, our personal lives and most importantly in the many associations we look to for direction.  As we embark on this journey together, we will have to embrace the strategic transition into a new age, be bold enough to welcome experimentation as we take risks towards exploration and converge on our passion for facilitating planning initiatives.


Connecting the Past & Present

Nearly a decade ago, CAPS-ACEAU faced dissolution and was not in good standing for several years prior.  This combined with lack of long-term volunteer commitment to facilitate continuity, diminishing private sector sponsorship, and partial lack of institutional support from planning programs to support an initiative that traditionally took place during the academic calendar year nearly ended the association.  Students under the direction from the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP-ICU) in collaboration with industry professionals committed to a long-term ongoing initiative to restoring the corpus of CAPS-ACEAU so that future generations to come would have the opportunities they have today in the association.  Equal opportunities, that would allow students from accredited programs, non-accredited programs, international programs abroad; and, include prospective, transitioning or aspiring cross-disciplinary students to experience planning in a positive supportive environment that was inclusive.

Today, our organization is in good standing with Industry Canada as a leading non-profit organization and continuing to help connect students across Canada reach their diverse range of goals and objectives.  


A Decade of Convergeance

Each conference planning committee since 2007 has worked seamlessly and endlessly to deliver milestones towards improving student opportunities across Canada as the association has evolved.  Some important milestones:

  1. Securing long-term volunteer commitment to ensure continuity, direction, accountability and transparency through the implementation of officers from previous CAPS-ACEAU administrations with specialized experience, who ensured students would be able to focus stress free on conference planning while the day-to-day operations were executed to remain in good standing.
  2. New formats to permit more than one school to host the CAPS-ACEAU Conference were explored, successfully facilitated and encouraged to allow strategic leveraging of resources in tandem to regional volunteer collaboration.
  3. Partnerships were strengthened in an effort to build national relationships to provide students with greater opportunities for mentoring, sponsoring and networking.
  4. A request for proposal initiative (RFP) was developed to offer equal opportunity for students across Canada to host the CAPS-ACEAU Conference and deliver mission critical results of bringing the annual conference to a different location in Canada each year.
  5. Post conference evaluations were standardized and information collected were channeled into transition recommendations that would later be integrated into each successive event to ensure best practices continue to be mindfully executed.
  6. Enhanced outreach into Quebec increased participation substantially on an annual basis and allowed for opportunities to host two fully bilingual conferences.
  7. Conference attendance since 2007 has tripled and students are now more connected than ever to mentoring, transitioning towards their professional designation and sharing research across Canada.
  8. High profile dynamic venues across Canada were procured to improve the experience of the conference, unique professional development through mobile tours and workshops were innovated to offer a once in a lifetime experience, and volunteer opportunities were enhanced to empower students to spark leadership across Canada.
  9. The CAPS-ACEAU website was developed and ongoing development as a hub to enhance connectivity for students and drive social media so that engagement outside the conference could occur in real-time.
  10. EXCITING NEWS:  The opportunity for the first national planning student conference that is going to be hosted by volunteers from different planning programs in geographic locations in Canada is underway and will be held during the first week of January 2016 to offer an opportunity for students across Canada to attend the conference before the commencement of the academic calendar year.

These celebrated milestones are a product of unique situational circumstances and the successive commitment of volunteers who have focused on putting planning students, prospective students and transitioning students first as a paramount priority. 


Into the Future with Positive Outlook

It is with great pleasure that we announce we are working together with planning students inclusively:  from accredited & non-accredited programs, aspiring & transitioning, post-secondary & post-graduate so please join us in the Canadian Rockies for a once in a lifetime experience and be a part of the history of CAPS-ACEAU. We look forward to personally welcoming you all to the forum for discussion and our annual general meeting.  While CAPS‐ACÉAU does not formally have a host university in 2016 you can rest assured as we transition towards the future it is paramont to all of us to find it a home for our 33rd anniversary in 2017 with our commitment to the RFP Process and an open discussion at the Annual General Meeting to facilitate positive engagement.  

Furthermore, despite the constraints we are facing, we are committed to facilitating this grass roots non-profit student volunteer initiative and will not be seeking financial sponsorship funding from the public and private sector in an effort to focus on a new model that will leverage human resources as an alternative precedent. The sustainability of the organization truly depends on volunteering, outreach, exploration, participation and leadership continuity in tandem to student mentoring.  Your participation in CAPS-ACÉAU links you to tens of thousands of people in the planning industry from across the country. Use the Association to connect, engage, and network with fellow colleagues passionate about planning.  Please continue to support this grass roots participatory planning initiative led by students, mentors, sponsors, and professionals in the field.

If you are student interested in volunteering please send your letter of intent and a copy of your resume or curriculum vitae to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and please do not hesitate to reach out to us - we are all always at your service!

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