07/27/2015 15:30 EDT | Updated 07/27/2016 01:12 EDT

Vancouver chief city planner Brian Jackson retires after 3 years on the job

Chief city planner Brian Jackson announced on Sunday he will retire from Vancouver city hall by the end of the year.

Jackson says he was inspired to leave after a recent trip to Paris. 

"I just thought to myself, what do I want to do with the last 20 years of my life on this planet," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff. 

"I just need to do this for myself. I hate to say it — it was a personal, very selfish decision."

Jackson helped the city create and implement three significant urban planning projects in the Downtown Eastside, the West End, and Marpole.

Jackson describes the plans as successes, but his three years in city hall have not been without criticism. 

Former planners and residents have denounced the department's high-density initiatives, including those for the Commercial-Broadway area. Some have explained the controversial plans as a result of pressure from city council, but Jackson dismisses that idea. 

"The narrative that's out there about council interfering with the planning decision process is enormously overblown," he said. 

Jackson said his department has been incredibly busy the past three years and called the city council's agenda on housing, sustainability, and transportation ambitious. The criticism from former planners are a "distraction," he said.

But Jackson admits his track record isn't perfect. Residents protested the plan for towers in Grandview-Woodland and the department was forced to go back to the drawing board. 

"We made a mistake, and we apologized to the community," he said.

Jackson says he has two more projects on his plate before he leaves at the end of the year: the report recommending the removal of the viaducts and the heritage action plan. 

He says the viaduct report will be released in the fall. 

Jackson remains proud of the work his department has done.

"We are the envy of the world, in terms of what's happening in Vancouver and specifically what's happening in the planning arena."

The city has not announced its plans on who it will appoint as the next director of planning and development. 

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Vancouver's chief city planner explains why he is stepping down.