I am a mid to senior level planner currently working for a consulting firm in California, and interested in relocating to Ottawa, Ontario. My professional planning experience ranges from having served as Planning Director for a small California city, lead planning consultant related to a 15,000 acre development proposal in New England, and significant land planning, conservation, and growth management work in the non-profit, public, and private sectors. I have a Bachelors Degree in Landscape Architecture and a Masters Degree in Regional Planning.

Why leave the world class, dynamic, beautiful, relatively balmy Bay Area for smalllish, wintry (livable, vibrant, clean and attractive) Ottawa you ask? First, I would like to be close to my family of origin (elderly parents) in northern New York State. Secondly, although Northern California has a great deal to offer, I simply believe that my own family's long-term quality of life will be better served in Canada than in the U.S. Having been raised on the Canadian border, I am pretty confident that my priorities as a person and a citizen are more closely aligned to the general priorities of Canadian society and Canada than that of the United States.

Having said all of the above, I am hoping that a few helpful Canadian planners might be able to provide some insights regarding how to go about landing a planning job in Canada, specifically the Ottawa region. As I mentioned above, I grew up nearby on the border, so I don't really need a primer on Canada or Ottawa per se, more the nitty gritty of how a planner from the States can start building a career in Canada.

Is membership in the CIP critical? I am currently an APA/AICP member. Are there planning conferences that provide particularly good networking opportunities? In terms of Ottawa, do most planners work in the public sector or the private sector? I am familiar with and interested in some of the work being conducted by the City of Ottawa’s planning department. Much of the city’s advanced or long-range planning is really at a regional scale and well suited to my background. Must one be a Canadian citizen to work as a planner in the public sector?

Any assistance with these or similar issues would be really appreciated.