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Scenario Planning

Our regional vision for sustainable growth and development, adopted in 2009, was informed by local plans, community engagement and regional planning. This vision has helped guide regional planning initiatives in transportation, economic development, housing, community development, environment and land use.

In fall 2016, MARC launched an interdisciplinary exercise to review and refresh our vision and provide a policy framework for updating regional plans.

Planning for the Future

Long-range planning requires not only a clear vision, but also the ability to predict how our population will grow, where we will live and work, and what we will want from our community. In the past, our forecasts have been based on assumptions built around current trends, but the future keeps getting harder to predict. We are experiencing profound shifts in economic forces, demographics, technology, climate and public expectations. The impact of these forces and how they will interact is unclear.

Scenario Planning

MARC is engaging policy committees and other interested parties in a scenario planning process designed to help advance our vision, regardless of what the future brings. We will use scenario planning to:

  • Examine key forces and trends.
  • Anticipate potential impacts (positive and negative) on land use, infrastructure, mobility, housing, economic growth, the workforce, social equity, public health and the environment.
  • Reconfirm or refresh our vision.
  • Create a policy framework for regional plans.
Driving Forces workshops identify emerging forces and discuss their potential impacts. We engage policy committees in discussions about which impacts are we most concerned about and interested in and what are the relationships or intersections between forces.
Next, we consolidate information on trends and impacts into clearly defined scenarios. What is likely to happen if we continue with business as usual? What if the economy stagnates or becomes increasingly unstable over an extended period of time? Will new technologies save the day, or will they cause new problems? Will a changing climate bring environmental issues to the top, and how are we likely to respond? What data and analysis could be used to evaluate each scenario?
We use these scenarios to reconfirm or refresh the regional vision, and identify policy adjustments that will help the region advance its vision, no matter what the future brings. How can we maximize opportunity and minimize negative impacts? What cross-cutting strategies should we consider?
We present a policy platform to guide regional planning efforts to the MARC Board of Directors and policy committees for approval. This platform guides and informs updates to regional plans, beginning with the long-range Metropolitan Transportation Plan.


View polling results from Driving Forces workshops.

Presentations from Jan. 31, 2017 workshop: