Planners and urban designers have played key roles in ensuring that Vieux-Montréal remains a vibrant part of the city without becoming a tourist trap.
Modern urban planning emerged as a profession in the early decades of the 20th century, largely as a response to the appalling sanitary, social, and economic conditions of rapidly-growing industrial cities. Initially the disciplines of architecture and civil engineering provided the nucleus of concerned professionals. They were joined by public health specialists, economists, sociologists, lawyers, and geographers, as the complexities of managing cities came to be more fully understood. Contemporary urban and regional planning techniques for survey, analysis, design, and implementation developed from an interdisciplinary synthesis of these fields.
Today, urban planning can be described as a technical and political process concerned with the welfare of people, control of the use of land, design of the urban environment including transportation and communication networks, and protection and enhancement of the natural environment.
The profession of planning is overseen in Canada by the Canadian Institute of Planners, operating through provincial divisions (which in Québec is the Ordre des urbanistes du Québec). The CIP controls use of the recognised professional accreditation for planners in Canada: "MCIP", signifying that the holder of the designation is a full member of the Canadian Institute of Planners. An MCIP has a university degree in planning or a related area, has acquired a minimum of two years of responsible planning experience, and has met rigorous examination standards required by the Canadian Institute of Planners, the professional association for planners. An MCIP adheres to a Code of Professional Practice developed by the Institute delineating the planner's responsibility to the public interest, clients and employers, and the profession. The Canadian Institute of Planners also oversees the official recognition of university programs as gateways to the profession, aided by the Association of Canadian Urban Planning Programs (ACUPP). McGill's M.U.P. degree has been recognised and accredited since it was established as an autonomous program in the mid-1970s. The U.S. equivalent to the CIP is the American Institute of Certified Planners, which also recognises McGill's M.U.P. degree for the purposes of professional accreditation.