Conference in Copenhagen: Learning about the Iconic Finger Plan


Map Courtesy of The Reflective Studio

Last week I had the opportunity to go to Copenhagen, Denmark for a Conference examining strategies and tools for sustainable peri-urban land use.  Copenhagen itself was an excellent location for several reasons, not the least of which is because of its iconic land use plan, known as the “Copenhagen Finger Plan.”

The 1947 Finger Plan visualized the future urban areas as a hand – the palm resting on the already existing city centre and the fingers pointing to future development along existing transportation infrastructure.  The areas between the “fingers” were to be green wedges, forest and pastoral landscapes that would, among other things, provide access to all residents to nature.


While the western wedges still exist and contain a mix of forests, nature areas, allotment gardens and hobby farming, the amount of farmland has been significantly reduced.  I gather this is due, at least in part to the fact that it was not until 2007 that the Plan gained legal status in Denmark’s Planning Act. As Henrik Vejre made clear in his presentation on the Finger Plan, if you are going to have a regional planning cutting across multiple jurisdictions, make sure it has a statutory basis. 


We are fortunate here in Ontario that both the Greenbelt Plan and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe are statutory plans, and are complemented by reforms made to the planning system.  Let’s hope that the current review of the Provincial Policy Statement allows for further improvements in sustainable planning practices. 



--Kathy Macpherson

Research and Policy Director

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