CHAPTER NEWS – March 2018


BC DEEP DIVE-1The BC Chapter hosted its first event of 2018 in Victoria on February 7. Drew Snider presented and led an interactive “Deep Dive” discussion about media relations & P2 with an engaged bunch of members and non-members.

Being able to tell the story you want about engagement through the media is important. Helping reporters and editors understand what “good” and “proper” public consultation looks like can help preserve the integrity of the process, even when vocal opponents try to discredit it. Discussion touched on ways of doing that — including the ever-popular “elevator pitch”.  (insert quotes (Amelia took not me) and images)

We are pleased to welcome the Canadian Trainers Collective to Vancouver for Foundations training in March and the Courageous Leadership Project training in Vancouver in April. For details on the dates and to register please visit:


P2 Talks: Changing Engagement for a Changing City

Jane PurvisThe Wild Rose chapter is pleased to have hosted two successful joint presentations of Jane Purvis’ presentation IAP2: ‘Changing Engagement for a Changing City’ in both Calgary and Edmonton along with the Alberta Professional Planners Institute (APPI). Both events were well attended by a diverse audience from both IAP2 and APPI.  The luncheons provided the audience an opportunity to hear Jane discuss the City of Edmonton’s recently concluded 3-year-long Council-sponsored Initiative on Public Engagement that resulted in significant changes to Edmonton’s engagement policy and approach. (See the special report by Tannis Topolnisky in this newsletter.) Thank you to everyone that was able to attend and remember to check out our website for upcoming professional development and networking events.

Anne Harding is Wild Rose’s newest CP3

ANNE HARDING-2We are pleased to celebrate Anne Harding as one of Canada’s newest Certified Public Participation Professionals (CP3). Jessica Delaney and Yvonne Morrison were also granted the certification, along with Anne. Anne is the Owner of Forum Relations, a Calgary based consulting company dedicated to sustainable decision-making through effective community engagement. Along with being the most immediate Past-President of IAP2 Canada, she also works as Stakeholder & Aboriginal Relations Senior Advisor at Suncor Energy. With Anne’s certification, the Wild Rose Chapter now has the most CP3’s in the country- a fact we are very proud of!

Save the date: April 27, 2018

IAP2 WR AGM, Networking and Core Value Awards Learning Opportunity

City of Calgary 2 (1)
City of Calgary’s Engagement team bolstered by ISL Engineering

What can be more exciting than an AGM you ask?  How about an opportunity to learn from two of last year’s core value award winners?  Join us to hear about The City of Calgary’s Crowchild Trail Extension project and the Calgary Board of Education’s 2016 Transportation Study which goes beyond presenting and includes some skill building.

Calgary School Board (1)
Karen Drummond (l) and Carrie Edwards flank Richard Delaney of Delaney + Associates

In between these two interactive sessions will be the AGM and a networking lunch. This is a great way to find out about what the chapter has been up to for the last year and possibilities for the upcoming year.  We would love for you to join us!

Date: Friday April 27, 2018

Location: Fort Calgary (750 – 9th Ave SE)

Keep your eyes out for more details as they emerge.  In the meantime, book yourself out for April 27!


The IAP2 Prairies Chapter held two successful AGMs on February 6, 2018. One in Winnipeg and a joint AGM between Regina and Saskatoon. The Chapter shared highlights of the past year and provided an opportunity for people interested in public engagement to learn more about IAP2 and membership benefits. After the AGM, both locations hosted a learning opportunity for attendees.

In Winnipeg, Morgan Vespa from the City of Winnipeg’s Office of Public Engagement facilitated a discussion regarding what the Office has achieved and the future of engagement in the City of Winnipeg. Regina hosted Samantha Mark, Prairie Wild Consulting Co., who shared case studies of their diverse work, the approach used in engagement and facilitation, and lessons learned.

The IAP2 Prairies Chapter is offering P2 training in the near future:

IAP2 Fundamentals in Public Participation

Planning module

March 27-29, 2018 – Regina, SK

Techniques module

April 18-19, 2018 – Regina, SK

IAP2 Strategies for Public Opposition & Outrage in Public Participation

(formerly called IAP2 Emotion, Outrage & Public Participation)

May 8 & 9, 2018 – Winnipeg, MB

May 15 & 16, 2018 – Regina, SK

For more information and to register please visit:


Great Lakes Chapter members gathered in Burlington on Feb 22 and talked about “the tools we use”, highlighting tools and techniques used that are innovative and in most cases, FUN!

Group PhotoThe group heard about:

Mentimeter which is a free software tool that helps to create fun and interactive presentations where participants use their mobile devices to participate.

Feedback Frame in actionFeedback Frames which is a tool that can be used for large group decision making using secret rating with instant visuals (see the photo for one in use at the meeting).  This method of engagement is based on the concept of dotmocracy but allows for anonymous voting.

RetroViewerWe went back in time and used RetroViewers – you remember these, we called them ViewMasters.  These were used to show residents what a current parcel of land looked like and what it COULD look like after re-development of the site.  A fun and interactive to show people concepts.

Online Town Hall was demonstrated.  This is a great way to have people participate without having to actually come out to a townhall meeting.

Interested and want more info?  Visit:

Keep on eye out for the IAP2 Great Lakes Newsletter for our next social P2 event. Have an idea for our next social get together? Let us know at

Webinar Rewind – March 2018: Core Values Award Winners – project categories-1

Dealing with the prospect of closing schools is a touchy subject in the best of conditions, but throw in language and other cultural differences, and things get even trickier.

Rockandel bio pict_sm (1)That was the challenge faced by the Richmond BC School District when faced with the need to do seismic upgrading on their buildings, in a zone identified as prone to liquefaction in case of an earthquake. The potential hit to the budget meant a real potential for closing some schools. This meant taking it to the people, which led to a Core Values Award for the District and Catherine Rockandel of Rockandel and Associates.

The Award — for “Respect for Diversity, Inclusion and Culture” — recognized the work done to reach out to families in a place where sixty percent of households do not have English as a first language. Languages in Richmond include Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Tagalog, Punjabi and some Japanese. Moreover, many of the immigrants come from cultures which mistrust governments and officialdom in general.

What tools and techniques did they use to encourage people to take part and trust that their voices are being heard and taken seriously? How did they reach a conclusion in which no schools were closed?


Although climate change is on the minds of pretty much everybody, one group has been routinely left out of the policy conversation: rural residents. Farmers, ranchers and others who live outside our big cities have found that policy designed by urban and suburban interests often fails to address the distinctive realities and challenges they experience.

The Saint Paul, Minnesota-based Jefferson Center joined with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy to create the “Rural Climate Dialogues”, in which people in three rural Minnesota communities hosted Citizen Juries to deliberate on the topic of climate and extreme weather, and create solutions that worked for them.

Camille Morse Nicholson headshotCamille Morse Nicholson, Program Coordinator at the Jefferson Center, outlined some of the different techniques required to build community support in advance of the dialogue, facilitate the jury’s work, and support the communities in their follow-up. Although a divisive debate is a possibility with such a politically-loaded topic, one participant remarked, “there was no political/ideological divisiveness: everything was done with respect and in good order.”

The dialogues continue with a focus on the future of energy in rural Minnesota, and the project has already won the Core Values Award for “Creativity and Innovation.”

Meet a Member – March 2018: Samantha Mark

POSITION Senior Manager of Regional and Community Planning, Prairie Wild Consulting Co.

How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

I have been practicing P2 since graduating from the Regional and Urban Planning Program at the University of Saskatchewan in 2010. I began my career with the former West Central Enterprise Region as an Economic Development Officer and Community Planning Consultant. I had two major roles with the Enterprise Region. The first was to conduct engagement through one-on-one interviews with business owners for a Business Retention and Expansion project within west central Saskatchewan. Secondly, under Prairie Wild’s supervision, I was the co-lead in the West Central Planning Initiative, a collaboration of five districts engaged in community based planning and main street revitalization.

In 2011, the West Central Enterprise Region ceased to exist due to Provincial budget cuts and I became a full time member of Prairie Wild, continuing to lead the West Central Planning Initiative, which involves a number of municipalities working together to develop District Plans, Official Community Plans and Zoning Bylaws.

What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

As community planners, we are bound ethically to serve the public good. P2 elevates the planning practices to ensure we challenge ourselves that we are going above and beyond the minimum requirements to ensure local wisdom and experience is captured through the planning process and is reflected in the Plans and related tools/documents we create.

It is an exciting feeling to facilitate participatory sessions with various stakeholders – community members, boards, Councils, committees, organizations, and others and see the appreciation from people that they had the opportunity to share their input. Utilizing the P2 process helps to build important capacity in the community from start to creation to implementation.

If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

Build up your toolkit – there are a number of resources available online and it is helpful to learn a variety of methods in order to be able to draw on them depending on the type of engagement you are doing and if certain events present themselves.

It is important to understand state of readiness with people, community, or an organization. Some people will feel comfortable participating at different stages and in different ways. Respecting this as part of the process help to further build capacity and trust.

Always remember to engage a wide variety of people and in different ways – drawing from your toolkit. Often times there are people who are underrepresented and it is important to think about ways to engage those who may not always have a voice (youth, seniors, various cultural backgrounds, others).

Reach out to those who have experience and wisdom in the P2 field. This could take shape in the form of having a mentor or mentors and staying connected through the P2 network. Having mentors and a network is helpful in terms of support, idea generation, and learning from each other.


President’s Message – March 2018: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


In my experience, regardless of how much time, effort, and energy a P2 practitioner puts into the design and implementation of a P2 effort, there always seems to be a sub-set of participants (or non-participants) out there who will (sometimes joyously and usually loudly) ‘rake you over the coals’ for having ‘botched’ the activity or process in question.

Over the years, despite my best efforts and probably like many of you, I have heard some fairly critical things. “This isn’t true participation! We have not been heard! This was manipulative! This was a waste of time! That was crap! Why did you ignore our input? The fix was in! What a joke!” and so on.

Some of these comments were deserved or earned. For sure, few of us can design and run perfect processes all the time, especially when we are often not in complete control of the variables that can cause things to derail. When we don’t have the front-end planning time to design a proper process, or the resources to implement effectively, should we be surprised when people become annoyed with us? On the other hand, some of the criticism that I have experienced or observed has not been fair or deserved, a least not in my professional P2 opinion, but it’s a reality just the same.

Overall, the effectiveness or meaningfulness of a P2 process is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s awesome in another person’s give me a break. We can’t expect to please everyone all the time, especially when people have such different ideas about how the public should be engaged. We do our best and we take a few shots from time to time. We try and deliver good P2, but sometimes find ourselves in the middle of mediocre or bad P2. Many of us have also experienced or observed ugly P2(weak; poorly planned; token; manipulative).

So as ethical and committed P2 professionals, how should we respond when we are chastised, mocked, critiqued, called to task, and/or attacked for our so-called ‘inadequate or failed’ P2 efforts?

Here’s my view:

Own your mistakes but also explain what you were trying to do and why; try to help your critics see that P2 is more art than science; tell them that every P2 effort is a bit like creating a work of art or a performance – there are many ways to create it, but every piece is not a winner for everyone.
Share and cite the IAP2 core values and ethics; tell your critics how you try and follow the key ‘known’ guidelines and best practices as outlined by the global leaders in P2 (IAP2); but also explain to them, that even when a P2 professional does this, there is no guarantee that efforts will be appreciated by all.
• Ask your critics for their improvement ideas; ‘mine them’ for this critically important information; keep track of what you are hearing over time, as you may begin to see patterns such as “activity X always seems to go off the rails in Z-type communities” or “Y-stakeholders seem to become agitated when we try X-type efforts”.
• Provide people with varied and meaningful ways for them to give you input; (e.g.; a URL link on a screen that encourages people to complete a short post-event participant survey; asking people to scribble down on paper ‘what they liked and disliked about this session’); study this info over time and use it to refine your implementation strategies so they are in keeping with changing public expectations.
• Most importantly, keep your best stories of failure close at hand and use them to entertain your colleagues; we have all ‘been there’ and no one loves a ‘crash n’ burn’ P2 story more than a P2 practitioner who has a few disaster stories of their own to share. A great place to do this by the way, is at the upcoming North American conference being held in Victoria BC this September!

WEBINAR REWIND: “Handling Emotion and Outrage in Public Participation” – the IAP2 February webinar

When dealing with conflict and entrenched opinions, do you look for the root causes of the entrenchment? In our February webinar, “Handling Emotion and Outrage in P2”, John Godec, MCP3, looked at some of the reasons why people become polarized in their opinions and why they hold those particular opinions in the first place.

(One of the IAP2 “Flagship” courses is “Strategies for Dealing with Opposition and Outrage in P2” – formerly known as EOP2 – but this should not be confused with this webinar.)

John pointed out that many of the issues P2 practitioners face today are not new. At the 1997 IAP2 Conference in Phoenix, Chris Gates, president of the National Civic League, described a society made up of angry citizens, ruthless media, broken politics, cynicism and old approaches, as well, Gates added, as “an assumption of bad intent by business and government leaders.”

Sixty years earlier, John noted, Dale Carnegie, the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” guy, stated that “When dealing with people, remember that you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”

John’s research into these root causes, in part, came from trying to understand his own family, many of whom he calls “über-conservatives”. It’s taken him into realms of neuroscience and human behavior, and the work of people like Dr Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist, and Dr. Jonathan Haidt a social psychologist who identify biological differences in brain function between people who hold conservative views and those who self identify as more liberal. In other words, people often become polarized and entrenched in their socio-political positions because they are wired that way.

Grasping that concept and learning to deal with it leads to better thinking when planning a P2 process that you know will be controversial and bring out wildly opposing factions, ensuring that certain voices are not allowed to dominate the scene.

IAP2 Canada members catch John’s webinar – and the question-and-answer period that ensued – here.


Special Feature: Changing Public Engagement for a Changing City

attachment (2)by Tannis Topolnisky, Manager, Engagement Services, City of Edmonton

Using a collaborative approach, the City of Edmonton has recently concluded a 3-year-long Council-sponsored Initiative on Public Engagement, resulting in significant changes to Edmonton’s engagement policy and approach. Wanting to model engagement best practice, the process included thousands of community voices through workshops, a joint community/city Advisory Committee, and five joint working groups.

The result of this incredible work and commitment from citizens, staff and Council included 20 action items under the categories of:

  1. Organizational Development and Culture;
  2. Community Leadership and Capacity Building;
  3. Public Engagement Planning, Delivery and Reporting;
  4. Learning and Training;
  5. Evaluation; and
  6. Communications for Public Engagement.

Now it’s the City’s job to take the knowledge gathered and implement these action items. This isn’t a shallow, operational shift, but rather a deep, organization-wide culture change.   As we move forward, we are shifting the City’s culture to a citizen-centred approach, that of undertaking public engagement with and for the public.

What’s Been Accomplished

The City’s new PE Policy was approved April 2017, and includes a new definition of PE, a revised PE Spectrum, explicit roles for Decision Makers, recognition of activities that support effective PE and guiding principles.

We have developed a new visual experience for marketing and communicating specifically about public engagement activities to reduce confusion with other public events the City hosts.

We have a public engagement promise to the public. This is a reflective summary of the key needs of the public that we heard from the Council Initiative. It is our organization’s collective commitment to the story of public engagement that we are committed to building.

We have adopted a new overall approach to public engagement which moves away from being focused on templates and rules to a more intentional approach.  This means we are starting at the first step of IAP2’s Five Steps for Public Participation Planning, and focussing on building capacity and processes to do Step 1: Gain Internal Commitment.

We have developed a new approach to working with decision makers, project managers and staff in defining our decisions and making commitments to the opportunities for public input.  This clarity of purpose will support success of everyone involved in public involvement, whether that be City staff, consultants or the public.

Of course we can’t do this alone.  In 2014 the City’s PE team consisted of four people. With the combined impacts of a major reorganization, the creation of a stand-alone Communications and Engagement Department and the conclusion of the three-year Council Initiative on Public Engagement with a new policy, City Leadership decided to expand the resources in our Public Engagement section.  We are building out our team and structure to meet our commitments and fulfill our promises to public engagement.

In 2018 the City’s Public Engagement Section will consist of 28 brilliant staff broken out into three units to support public engagement across the organization: Public Engagement Services (advisory, support and implementation functions), Methods and Practices (standardized processes, templates, learning and training) and Research (supporting surveys, focus groups, public opinion research).

A number of our people are allocated to specific, long-term, and large-scale projects (e.g. LRT, Freeway Conversion, Bus Network Redesign), while others support various “buckets” of similar work (e.g. Planning and Major Facilities, Housing and Social Development, and Major Roads and Utilities).

To hold us to account and ensure transparency regarding our changes to public engagement culture and practice, a Guiding Coalition for Public Engagement is being created. The Coalition’s role will be to monitor the City’s progress on delivering the actions of the Council Initiative and ensure community perspectives remain forefront throughout the implementation. The Coalition will work collaboratively to provide advice and guidance about the City’s delivery of public engagement processes and activities through regular review of reports and performance measures.

Crossing The (Non-Existent) Finish Line!

There is much more exciting work to be done.  What we’ve learned from where we’ve come from is that this job of improving public engagement will never be done.  It is a journey of continuous improvement that relies on constant evaluation and iteration.  So our approach and state of mind about our practice is one of: Evaluate – Refine – Evolve.  Where we are currently at within the City of Edmonton is one point-in-time in our public engagement journey that will continue to evolve as objectives are accomplished and new challenges arise.

If you are interested in joining our expanding team, check out the current opportunities at the City of Edmonton.

City of Edmonton’s Vision for Public Engagement: City where we are connected, invested, and proud to participate in shaping our community.

Webinar Rewind: Digital Engagement Panel – January 2018

We always like to kick off the New Year with a look at the latest in digital engagement, and in January, we brought back together the members of the pre-conference DE workshop at the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference in Denver. Dave Biggs (MetroQuest), Charles Connell (Social Pinpoint), Matt Crozier (Bang the Table) and Joseph Thornley (76engage) held a panel discussion, with over 100 people — a sellout crowd! — joining in.

The discussion ranges through a variety of topics. Here’s a sample of the panel’s observations:

MATT CROZIER-2Matt: We can no longer separate digital engagement from in-person engagement — we need to think about how the methods work together. Digital is the only way you can take engagement from reaching tens or hundreds and into thousands or tens of thousands.

“You get more thoughtful responses through online and you can engage when a community is ready. If they’re not already engaged and a project comes up, people will go elsewhere to make their comments — usually on social media, outside the project.”

JOSEPH THORNLEY-1Joseph:  “Online engagement is the last, best hope for restoring trust in government. It’s not about getting people to agree, b

ut about genuinely wanting to hear what’s important to people and how they feel. You also have to limit engaging to issues that are genuinely open for discussion — not in cases where the decision, for whatever reason, has already been made.”

CHARLES CONNELL-1Charles: “Knowing what a community thinks is one thing, but where the people are thinking it is also powerful. Placing people in relation to the project creates a personal connection, inspires ownership of the project and is fun! People love to interact on maps.”



DAVE BIGGS-1Dave: “We have to ask, ‘What does “successful” mean?’ Agencies want to maximize participation and be certain that the input is informed — therefore, trustworthy — so they have results that are actionable. And if you make it fun and ‘playful’, people will want to take part.”

Monthly webinars are one more member benefit: IAP2 Canada members can watch the entire webinar — and get access to collateral material from the presenters — here.