Announcing the Schedule for the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference

THE SCENE IS SET!

ANNOUNCING THE SCHEDULE FOR THE

2017 IAP2 NORTH AMERICAN CONFERENCE!

More than 40 sessions! Three pre-Conference workshops! Something new: Pathways! The schedule is now set for the 2017 IAP2 North American Conference, September 6 – 8 in Denver, Colorado.

Read the full Schedule-at-a-Glance here.

Visit the conference page on the website.

This year’s theme, “Pursuing the Greater Good – P2 for a Changing World”, couldn’t be more timely, and once again, you have an opportunity to consider that theme from a variety of angles and share perspectives and insights.

The pre-conference workshops cover three important topics for P2 professionals: “Bringing More People to the Table”, “Digital Engagement” and “Transportation and P2”.

Pathways are “deep dives” into specific topics; three-hour discussions where you get to set the agenda, co-create and co-host. Those taking part will be able to set the physical and intellectual environment where a small group of people can tackle big questions that ultimately contribute to the field. With Pathways, you can expect an experience that is in-the-moment, dynamic, engaging … and demanding!

From now until June 30, you can take advantage of the early-bird price: US $550 for members and $700 for non-members. For that, you get:

  • workshops or field trips, Wednesday, Sept. 6
  • the welcome reception, Wednesday, Sept. 6
  • all sessions and pathways
  • continental breakfast
  • lunch and lunchtime activities
  • the Core Values Awards gala, Thursday, Sept. 7 – dinner, entertainment and a chance to applaud the best in the business

Conference Scholarships. We want to make sure as many people as possible can participate in a conference on participation, so once again this year, we’re excited to offer scholarships. Full-time students, non-profit staff members, new community advocates and active members of AmeriCorps may apply to have their conference fee covered. Download the application form here.

Are you with an organization that supports P2? Sponsoring the IAP2 North American Conference is a great way to get your corporate or organization message out to the P2 community and at the same time, demonstrate that you believe in the IAP2 principles. We have a variety of options that can fit your marketing budget, including exhibit space, program mentions and presenting sponsor for lunches and the Core Values Awards gala! Download the sponsorship package here. (Standalone Sponsorship Form)

So don’t delay – reserve today! The last two Conferences – Montréal and Portland, Oregon – sold out quickly, and with the Conference theme, the pathways and the presentations, you do not want to miss this! What’s more, our host hotel, the Westin Downtown, is offering a special Conference rate – US $189/night – for those who book by August 6.

See you in the Mile-High City!

WEBINAR REWIND, Feb. 14, 2017

MONTREAL ENCORE: Making Engagement Meaningful with P2 Toolkits

In your P2 career, are there times when being the professional is almost a hindrance to meaningful engagement? You could walk into a situation where the community is skeptical that a process will be fair and honest, or find that staff are more involved than you’re able to accommodate, or any of a number of other situations.

One solution is to develop P2 Toolkits. These are specialized “packages” of resources that can be provided to “non-professionals” to help them with their engagement efforts. Based on their presentation at the IAP2 North American Conference last September, Cristelle Blackford of CivicMakers, Abby Monroe of the City of Chicago and Zane Hamm, educator and research associate with the Centre for Public Involvement in Edmonton discussed how toolkits have worked in three individual projects.

elk-grove-signCristelle explained how people in Elk Grove, a community just outside Sacramento, California, have guarded their rural lifestyle and atmosphere, and have lately found it threatened by an influx of young families with an urban bent. A proposal to improve mobility in the area – including sidewalks and bike lanes – ran into opposition from those concerned it represented the beginning of a suburban takeover of the rural area; there was also skepticism about the outreach process.

elk-grove-toolkitCristelle’s team determined that the best way to reach out to people in the community would be through other members of the community; that neighbours talking to neighbours would ensure the engagement was meaningful. So they assembled the toolkit that included project information, outreach templates and forms for reporting back. A very plain style was chosen: one that would be more trusted in the community.

Ten “street teams” contacted 115 households – about 95% of the target area – and Cristelle says that’s more than professional consultants could have reached. In the end, the community came up with a mobility approach that focused on what was deemed to be the more immediate issue – street safety – with other work to come later. In the process, community members felt ownership over the process and trust was restored between the community and the City.

weho-toolkitThe City of West Hollywood had a different situation: staff across the board were eager to engage with the public on all manner of issues across departments, but outreach efforts to date had been disjointed. It was necessary to provide them with the tools to do it and consistent messaging that would work no matter what the topic.

Abby Monroe described how that toolkit was put together: elaborate, colourful materials designed by a graphic artist. Brochures, “playing cards”, posters and other resources were packaged and distributed to the various departments, and training was provided. The result was an involved and engaged staff, an enthusiasm for higher-quality public participation and a consistent city voice across departments.

diy-engage-toolkitAnd then, there is the DIY Engage! toolkit. Developed by the Centre for Public Involvement, this grew out of a need identified by organizations for something to address barriers to participation and make the public engagement process more inclusive by putting equitable outreach design in the hands of community members. Zane Hamm explained this is designed to be an open-source toolkit with resources to enable anyone to facilitate a process in familiar spaces and with culturally-relevant resources. The toolkit is currently being reviewed by leadership students for version 2.0 – an interactive game.

This toolkit includes interactive materials such as a guide book to lead a group through the experiential process of designing a public engagement or initiative, and two sets of cards – one set, putting forward challenges to engagement, with the flip-side putting forward solutions. The second set of cards, “Check Your Knowledge”, highlights terms and facts related to the topic. “Perspective” buttons, designed to understand different points of view, encourage creative thinking to solve the problems identified.

IAP2 Canada members can watch the recording of the webinar, and get access to some of the resources mentioned here. Note that Cristelle, Abby and Zane are inviting comments, questions and experiences you might have had with toolkits, yourself.

Webinar Rewind: Participatory Budgeting (January 2017)

Consider a ladder.

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sharidavis
Shari Davis

Looks a lot like the P2 Spectrum, doesn’t it? In the January IAP2 Learning webinar, we heard how Participatory Budgeting (PB) lays claim to the topmost rung on that ladder. Shari Davis, Director of Strategic Initiatives with the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP), described how PB gives people – especially those who are often cut out of the democratic process – an opportunity to be fully involved with decisions on how to spend public money.

 

 

PB is about more than spending money, Shari explains. The process begins with deciding on the amount of money to be set aside for PB. It has to be a large-enough sum to make it “worthwhile” for people to take part. Shari points out that if a major city designated, say, five thousand dollars for PB, no one would take the process seriously. Dieppe, with an annual budget of $50-million, set aside $300-thousand. The City of Boston designated $1-million for a youth-oriented PB project.

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Once the “pot” is identified, the city then reaches out to the communities that would be affected, finding leaders who can then draw in other community members. Shari says it’s vital to have grassroots involvement right from the start, in order to make sure people see that their involvement is being taken seriously. It’s also important to define “equity” from the start, to make sure that those who need to be part of the process are contacted and drawn in.

People brainstorm ideas, develop proposals, find champions for those proposals, vote on them and eventually implement the “winners”. At the proposal development stage, city staff join the process to discuss feasibility and impact, and to help cost-out the proposals. This is where some ideas are pursued, while others drop out of the running.

But as we said earlier, the benefits of PB go beyond simply spending money. Communications between government and citizens are improved, and so is learning within the community. What’s more, more people are inspired to get more deeply involved in public affairs: a Harvard University study found that people who got involved in the process had learned more about local government, and were more likely to work with others to solve community problems.

luc-richard
Luc Richard

Luc Richard described how the City of Dieppe, New Brunswick (est. pop. 30,000), where he is Director of Organizational Performance, launched its own PB process. City Councillors realized that their efforts to consult with the community had been superficial, so determined to move more towards the “right” of the IAP2 Spectrum – i.e. “collaborate” or “empower” – and decided a PB process was the way to do it, enlisting the help of PBP consultants from New York City to make it happen.

pb-5Among the criteria approved by the Steering Committee were that the funding was to be one-time-only, but programs and services, as well as infrastructure, would be eligible. They also decided to give voting rights to people who wouldn’t normally be eligible, such as non-citizens living in the area and people age 11 and over (middle-school age).

Booths were set up in public markets and other gathering places to collect ideas; people could also take part online and at workshops held at various times and days, to make sure people from as many different sectors as possible could participate. Over 100 ideas were submitted, and a selection committee consisting of city staff and community members met throughout the summer to winnow that list down to just under 20.

Then came the three-week voting phase, with a Project Expo at the local Middle School, to showcase the various ideas. Project Champions produced videos outlining the proposals.

In the end, four projects were accepted: a

pb-6
The emergence of new faces is encouraging for future engagement efforts

ball hockey rink, a climbing wall, renovations to a playground and an outdoor fitness equipment park. All but one has been fully implemented.

While voter turnout was a disappointing 5.4%, a lot of positives have come out of the process. For one thing, there were a lot of “new faces” showing up – public involvement was not commandeered by “the usual suspects”, as can happen in such exercises. Having youth involved meant whole families were getting into the act. And the city received a lot of positive exposure in the media.

“Participatory Budgeting is a cure for the skepticism towards politics.”

Le Devoir, June, 2016

Dieppe is by no means the only Canadian city using PB. Toronto is into Year Two of its three-year PB process; St-Basile-le-Grand, Québec, has done it; so have Hamilton and Guelph, and Victoria is about to launch a project this year.

IAP2 Canada members may watch the webinar and get access to collateral materials here.

2016 IAP2 North American Conference – a Bursary’s-eye View – 2

Two of the winners of bursaries to attend the 2016 North American Conference were Manel Djemel, a doctoral candidate in environmental design at University of Montréal, and Charlie Carter, a staff member at the Ontario Centre for Excellence in Child and Youth Mental Health. They took on the job of gathering the notes and ideas generated from the Opening Plenary: a World Café on the central theme of the Conference.

charlie-profile-pic-workCharlie Carter

The opening plenary of the 2016 IAP2 conference used a World Café to explore three questions: Why should we care about public participation? What would happen if we stopped caring? Can we get more people to care?

Why should we care about public participation?

There are practical and philosophical reasons for why we should care about public participation. Conference participants linked public participation to democracy, citizenship and community. There was a shared sense that it’s simply the right thing to do – that people have a right to participate in decisions that affect them and our political system and society would not work without the involvement of an engaged public. Expanding on this point, many participants said we should care about public participation because it’s part of community building and engenders trust. The kind of face-to-face interaction that can occur in public engagement provides avenues for empathy and collaboration, while reducing the risk of people feeling alienated or disgruntled. S’il y a plus de participation il y aura moins de gens qui domine!

At a practical level, many people shared the belief that public participation is fundamental to elegant design and better decision making, especially because experts are not always right. Public participation can drive innovation and build support and ownership of difficult decisions.

Some comments reflected a theme that occurred at other times during the conference: that public participation is sometimes just a public relations exercise.

What would happen if we stopped caring?

Not caring could lead to increased community conflict, undermine community cohesion and polarise people. Ultimately there would be less democracy as government would make decisions, often on assumptions and without thoughtful consideration of sustainable change. Without any public voice, decisions would be unbalanced and trust would diminish further.

At an applied level, if public participation professionals stopped caring then participation would largely be tokenistic or people simply wouldn’t be heard. There could be more isolation, apathy, litigation, and civil disorder.

The point was made that even if we care now, many of these things are already happening – especially for those on the periphery and who don’t have a collective voice or access to power.

Can we get more people to care?

There was agreement that we can get more people to care and there are methods to help build buy-in. The engagement process needs to make it easy for people to participate, ensure enough time, meet people where they are and be based on respect and empathy for different perspectives. Those doing the engagement can model this and demonstrate a genuine desire to listen and hear. Communication about the process should be honest about how the public will influence decision making. While we don’t need everyone to care, we need to listen and act with integrity.

Feedback loops are essential. They share how input affects decisions and add to the regular communication about the relevant issues and process. Feedback loops are about sharing successes as well as failures – and give an honest report on who owns the outcome.

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manel_djemelManel Djemel

À l’occasion de la conférence nord-américaine de l’AIP2 Montréal 2016, un World Café a été organisé lors de la séance plénière d’ouverture. Cet espace d’échange et de partage fut une opportunité pour les conférenciers de communiquer et échanger autour de trois questions sur à la participation publique. Afin d’assurer la pérennité de leurs participations, ils ont esquissé leurs idées sur les supports papier fournis par les soins des organisateurs.

Pourquoi devrions-nous nous préoccuper de la participation du public?

Fut la première question autour de laquelle débattaient les conférenciers. Les opinions étaient divergentes et s’intéressaient essentiellement à l’aspect conséquentialiste de la question. L’argument principal fut la construction de la communauté de la citoyenneté. Toutefois, une résistance apparait quant aux résultats escomptés, vu que parfois les parties prenantes expriment la volonté de participer, sans toutefois que cela matérialise les objectifs dressés en amont.

La durabilité des décisions est aussi un argument en faveur de l’intérêt qu’il faut accorder à ce processus. Cet aspect requiert une attention particulière essentiellement vu qu’il nous engage en tant qu’acteur et citoyen pour assumer une responsabilité prospective (Jonas, 1998) à l’égard des générations futures. C’est aussi un aspect d’une éducation à promouvoir chez eux, afin qu’ils puissent construire leur avenir en adoptant des approches éthiques et participatives.

La construction saine des communautés repose sur la mise en place d’une atmosphère de confiance et de partage. Cela développe le sentiment d’appartenance et la volonté d’engagement chez le citoyen. C’est aussi un moyen de faire place à un plus grand nombre de parties prenantes pour s’exprimer et contribuer au projet. L’intelligence collective est alors, un des facteurs à prendre en considération lors de l’élaboration des projets. Il s’avère que le citoyen est parfois plus informé et conscient des enjeux de développement du projet que les experts qui peuvent parfois ne pas détenir toute l’information. Cette approche permettrait alors de : i) concevoir un « Design élégant », accepté et approprié par les citoyens, ii) permettre la collaboration entre les différentes parties prenantes du projet afin de pallier à la complexité et aux incertitudes générées par les projets, iii) permettre l’autonomisation des communautés et l’instauration d’une culture communautaire intégrée.

La prise de décision est aussi une des préoccupations primordiales dans le débat. Adopter une approche participative est un des piliers du système politique actuel, qui permet une meilleure délibération, et une démocratisation des processus. Les commutés contribuent à cet effet à la construction d’une décision réfléchie et plus responsable.

L’aspect éthique de la participation publique est perçu dans nombreuses recommandations qui évoquent l’empathie, le partage, la prise en compte des dimensions humaines et personnelles, la confiance et la responsabilisation. Toutes ces notions évoquent l’importance de la participation publique dans la construction d’une culture décisionnelle vertueuse et responsable.

Que se passerait-il si nous arrêtons d’en prendre soin?

Fut la deuxième question autour de laquelle s’articulaient les arguments qui pourraient être regroupés en 4 catégories : les aspects philosophiques et éthiques, la prise de décision, les risques sociétaux et la responsabilité rétrospective.

Le souci de l’apathie apparait sous plusieurs aspects et dans différents argumentaires. C’est une crainte généralisée de perdre l’enthousiasme du citoyen et sa démission de la sphère sociale. En effet cela intensifie le sentiment d’outrage et augmente ainsi l’isolement des parties. L’exclusion des parties prenantes et des citoyens du processus de prise de décision aurait des répercussions majeures sur le processus démocratique et sur la qualité des décisions. Ces dernières seraient précipitées, rapides et non réfléchies. Les instances politiques, n’ayant pas une vision éclairée des aléas des projets, des politiques locales et des enjeux du milieu, prendraient des décisions hypothétiques et surréalistes.

Délaisser la participation publique mène à une sous-représentation des communautés et leur exclusion de l’arène décisionnelle. A cet effet, les instances détentrice du droit de décision prendraient des décisions moins durables, et moins équilibrées. Ces risques sont aussi importants dans une prescrive ou cela génère des conflits potentiels et souvent une situation de statuts-co difficilement gérable. La polarisation, est aussi un des aspects évoqués qui luis aussi génère un risque d’échec des projets vu que les voix ne soient pas exprimées et que la participation soit symbolique. Ce qui augmente les risques de révoltes, de désordre civil, de protestations et de manque de cohésion dans la communauté.

La préoccupation du futur et la responsabilité prospective sont aussi une préoccupation générale. Il s’avère que nous devons nous préoccuper non seulement des processus et approches actuelles, mais aussi d’assurer une éducation de participation, de partage et de collaboration. Abandonner la participation publique représente alors une menace sur notre capacité à pourvoir changer le monde et une menace de souffrance face à la perte du sens de l’organisation et de l’esprit commentaire.

À la question pouvons-nous obtenir plus de gens qui s’intéressent ? La réponse fut une affirmation généralisée. Cette perception positive et optimiste de l’avenir s’est traduite par des arguments qui mettent de l’avant l’importance d’engager le processus participatif en amont des projets et de permettre aux acteurs de s’en approprier et s’y identifier.

L’exploration des pistes et moyens passait par des recommandations de partage des expériences ayant du succès et exprimer l’impact positif de participation publique sur la décision. En effet, sensibiliser les acteurs en leurs exposants des modèles de réussites et d’échecs aide à les inciter davantage à s’engager et à construire une culture de collaboration et de partage.  Le temps est un facteur important dans le processus participatif. Les délais et l’implication anticipée encouragent les citoyens à s’engager et facilitent ainsi le processus de recrutement.

Accroitre l’intérêt pour la participation chez les différentes parties prenantes dans les projets passe essentiellement par une politique d’information efficace et transparente. Ces démarches consistent essentiellement à la mise en place de procédure qui favorise de rejoindre les parties prenantes dans leurs lieux (travail, résidences, quartiers, villes, etc.) et de leur exposer les avantages du processus et son impact sur leurs intérêts. La vulgarisation des discours et la simplification des moyens sont un facteur important de réussite de ces démarches qui contribuent à une meilleure compréhension non seulement des enjeux, mais aussi des risques de leur désengagement sur la prise de décision.

Susciter l’intérêt d’un plus grand nombre d’acteurs passe aussi par leur responsabilisation et l’exploration de pistes de recherche d’un meilleur droit et d’une accessibilité accrue à la prise de décision.  La démonstration des valeurs et du respect de la dimension humaine dans le processus participatif accentue l’implication et la volonté de faire part du projet et de la décision.

Les objectifs escomptés par cette approche de stimulation de la participation donnent lieu à une culmination du niveau d’analyse et de conception, ainsi que celui des compétences et d’intégrité. Encourager les acteurs à s’engager dans la participation publique permet une ouverture disciplinaire et de meilleures conditions de prise de décision concertée et réfléchie.

En conclusion l’épreuve du World café a donné lieu à un foisonnement d’idées d’argument et de partage d’expérience. Prendre part de cette expérience fut une opportunité d’expérimenter les avantages de l’exploration de l’intelligence collective et les bénéfices de cette approche participative et de partage.

Références 

Jonas, H., (1998), Le principe responsabilité : une éthique pour la civilisation technologique; traduit de l’allemand par Jean Greisch. Paris : Flammarion 1998, c1990.

President’s message – Oct. 2017

Post-Conference Ruminations

bruce
Bruce Gilbert, IAP2 President

According to participant evaluations from the recent Montreal IAP2 conference most attendees thought the event was a tremendous success. They described it as worthwhile, educational, fun, refreshing and well-organized. I am one of those people. I loved the event. It had a vibe that is difficult to describe or explain. Somehow it felt comfortable and safe while being challenging and daring at the same time. Kudos once again to the organizers who made it all possible.

What I most liked about the conference was that it allowed me to rub shoulders with people different from me. It exposed me to new ideas. It forced me to reflect upon my practice and to question some of my assumptions about P2. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and caused some vague foggy ideas about P2 floating around in my mind to come into focus. With this in mind, below I ruminate on two of my key insights or learnings from the conference. Each is worthy of considerable discussion and debate. Who knows – one or both might even make for an interesting if not raucous future webinar or conference session?

Social movements are important manifestations of P2, but do we care enough about them?

Effective public participation does not always rely on convenors, P2 professionals and organized P2 activities. As case studies from Quebec reminded me, sometimes citizens can just decide that its time to participate. They don’t wait for any decision-maker to invite them to any carefully organized table. They don’t need or want to be facilitated or managed by P2 professionals, although movement organizers can usually be found working behind-the-scenes. In such instances, citizens demand to have a seat at the decision-making table often to the chagrin of decision-makers.

Social movements that bubble up from the grassroots may be messy for some, but they are also important. They demonstrate participatory democracy-in-action. They make change happen. They give people hope and remind them of their responsibilities as citizens. Some practitioners may consider such movements to be ‘outside’ of our well-established professional ‘P2 framing’. I think it is, or should be, framed ‘inside’. Indeed, I think this dimension of grassroots civic participation gets short shrift in our P2 practitioner world.

Some questions I would like us to consider and hopefully discuss in this regard are: Is there a role for professional P2 practitioners in social movements? If yes, how and where can/should we get involved? What is the role of the P2 practitioner when decision-makers ‘brush off’ the empowered and advancing publics? Do we lose credibility among those with the resources to pay us – such as government decision-makers – when we work to support social movements that challenge the status quo (and which often do not have resources to pay us)? Doesn’t our own ‘need to earn a living’ put us on the side of the status quo, and if yes are we happy there? How can we make our skills and abilities available to those who need support but cannot afford to pay?

Decision-makers are important to P2, but where are they?

A big part of any P2 practitioner’s job is to find effective ways to connect the views, ideas and insights of the public (citizens and/or stakeholder groups/interests) with decision-makers. As such, practitioners often serve as brokers or mediators between two groups (i.e., those with something to say and those who decide things). In my view we spend most of our P2 practitioner time talking about how to engage the former not the latter. Clearly, most of our P2 focus is on tools, techniques and approaches for engaging the public.

But what about the decision-makers? Aren’t they – particularly the senior ones – absolutely essential for effective P2? Don’t they also need to be sold on and fully supportive of P2 for it to be meaningful and effective? If they are actually the beneficiaries of P2, as we so often state, why aren’t they more enthused about P2? Why are so few of them members of IAP2? Why were so few at the conference? Why are P2 budgets so often the first to get cut in times of corporate or government restraint? Do senior executive and politicians really care about P2, or are they just doing enough to get by?

In my view, we need to urgently engage decision-makers at the highest levels in a dialogue about P2 with emphasis on its value to them, their organization, society and democracy. But when we do this we will also need to be honest with them bout the limits of P2. We will need to acknowledge that P2 is not the solution to every problem. We will need to be prepared to hear that P2 can cause problems for decision-makers especially when wildly divergent public views on a topic ensure that at least some forces will become hostile to the decision-makers once a decision on a matter is finally taken.

When it comes to government decision-makers, we will need to be ready to discuss how the somewhat uneasy ‘mash-up’ of representative and participatory democracy unfolding in Western societies since the 60s has caused and is causing problems for some (many?) elected officials. Simply put, most politicians see their role as ‘representing, advocating and speaking for their constituents’. As such, for some elected officials at least, P2 can be seen as a threat. Some believe that their role is diminished or lessened when outside P2 professionals arrive to gather input from the people (“Hey – that’s my job!”). In their eyes, an uninvited P2 participatory democracy ‘guest’ has ‘barged into’ the traditional and well-established representative democracy system that they actually signed up for.

Suffice to say, there are some skeptical decision-makers out there and we need to talk to them. We need to help them understand how P2 does not demand a weakened role for them, but rather requires that politicians play a more mature and facilitative role. If we do our job well, and help them to develop the skills they will need in their new roles, many will likely be delighted to discover that decision-makers who champion effective P2 also often do extremely well on voting day.

Thanks for your time! Reactions, counterpoints, rants and comedic-responses all gratefully accepted!

Sincerely,

Bruce

Thank you to our volunteers!

IAP2 Canada and IAP2 USA would like to thank the following committees for their hard work and commitment to excellence:

L’AIP2 Canada et l’AIP2 E-U souhaitent remercier les comités suivants pour leur travail acharné et leur poursuite de l’excellence:

North American Conference Steering Committee

Comité directeur, Conférence nord-américaine

Hugo Mimee, co-chair/co-président – Hydro-Québec

David Pensato, co-chair/co-président – The Distillery

Anthea Brown – Bang The Table

Natalie Henault, MNP

Julie Reid Forget – Transfert Environnement et Société

Amelia Shaw, staff/membre du personnel, IAP2 Canada &  IAP2 USA

Sponsorship Committee Comité Commandites

Julie Reid Forget – Transfert Environnement et Société

Natalie Henault – MNP

Anne Harding – Suncor

Hugo Mimee – Hydro-Québec

Program Committee Comité programmation

Isabelle Verrault, Coordinator/Coordinatrice – Hill+Knowlton

Anthea Brown, Coordinator/Coordinatrice – Bang The Table

Anik Pouliot – Office de consultation publique de Montréal

Janis Crawford – Hydro-Québec

Susan Freig – Freig & Associates

Isabelle Lachance – Transfert Environnement et Société

Stéphane Bérubé – Santé Canada

Stefanie Wells – Office de consultation publique de Montréal

Constance Ramacière – BRAC

Comité Saint-Laurent

Alexandra Boileau, Coordinator/coordinatrice – Transfert Environnement et Société

Simon Chauvette, Coordinator/coordinateur, Hill+Knowlton

Jimmy Duchesneau – Association pour la protection de l’environnement du lac Saint-Charles et des Marais du Nord (APEL)

Anick Patendaude, Consultante indépendante

Alice Miquet – La Maison d’Aurore

Sara-Maude Boyer, Ville de Montréal

Frédéric Marois – Mobili-T

Lindsay Wiginton, Pembina Institute

Our Conference volunteers Les bénévoles de la Conférence

Valerie Andreetta                                                Jessie Larouche Couture

Matthieu Bardin                                                  Gabriel Larue

Anis Belabbas                                                       Marie-Ève Maillé

Sophie Blanchet                                                   Frédéric Marois

Maxime Boutaghou Courtemanche              Michelle Reimer

Sara-Maude Boyer-Gendron                           Sylvain Rodrigue

Alex Fortin                                                             Anne Roudaut

Laurence Goulet-Beaudry                                 Yvonne Suarez

Olivier Trudeau                                                     Florence Vuille

Stéfanie Wells                                                        Élise Naud

Johanne Savard                                                      Danny King

 

WEBINAR REWIND – Decision-Makers and P2 – September 2016

What drives decision-makers to embrace P2? One of the hurdles P2 practitioners have to clear is to convince people in charge of the value of P2. The September webinar gives insight into how one can approach municipal politicians about public consultation.

Three municipal politicians joined us to talk about the value they’ve found in P2: City Councillor Blair Lancaster from Burlington, Ontario, told us how they came up with an Engagement Charter – the first of its kind in Canada – which calls for citizen involvement in all decision-making.

Austin, Texas, Council Member Leslie Pool described the complete overhaul of her city’s culture, during which a Task Force On Community Engagement was set up and an online tool was developed to make sure neighbourhood groups had the information they needed on plans in the area.

Mayor Dennis Coombs of Longmont, Colorado, explained that his city’s council (put in a link) realized as far back as 2001 how getting multiple inputs from citizens leads to better decisions. Watch the whole webinar and download some of the presenters’ collateral material here.

blair-lancasterBLAIR LANCASTER – BURLINGTON, ONTARIO

In 2011, a fairly new council took office in Burlington: three new councillors and a new mayor. Coun. Lancaster described how the IAP2 model provided them with a framework to follow in decision-making, where people know what their place is and how they can contribute. About 60 staff members and several citizens were trained, and that led to the development of an Engagement Charter – which she calls a “powerful document’ that was one of the first in Canada to put the city’s commitment to engage with residents into writing. The charter calls for engagement with citizens in all decision-making.

The first community engagement was a big one: creating the 2015-2040 Strategic Plan. They trained about 60 staff members and several citizens in P2 practices and used the IAP2 model. They went through three phases, which brought over a hundred changes to the plan, including a number of changes that came out during a World Café that was held to look over what staff thought was the final draft.

An important point, Coun. Lancaster says, is that the public realize that community engagement is a two-way street. Council has a responsibility to engage; citizens have a responsibility to be aware. A case in point was a recent review of the city’s parking by-laws, which had undergone four changes in as many years. This had become a source of frustration and confusion for the residents.

Consultations were held, citizens came out to give their feedback, and many more vocal types showed up late in the process. Thanks to the IAP2 model, Coun. Lancaster was able to show that the consultations had been going on and that public opinion was being taken into account. The IAP2 model not only ensures people affected by a decision have a voice in that decision; it provides a “backstop” for people in government, to show that they have been doing due diligence when it comes to consulting with the citizens.

The bottom line for Burlington? An engaging city involves residents and leads to good governance.

 

leslie-poolLESLIE POOL – AUSTIN, TEXAS

When Leslie Pool was elected to Council in the capital of the Lone Star State, the council passed a resolution at its first meeting to gather best practices for communicating into and out of the city. They had heard that people were concerned they weren’t being heard, and wanted to explore areas of public engagement and find where they can make improvements.

A 13-member task force on community engagement was set up, including Council Members and appointees from the general public and a P2 professional from outside was hired to facilitate.

CM Pool notes that it’s vital to get clear, understandable information and then to show how their public feedback is being used. They ensured staff had training in P2 and recognized that it was important to re-design the website to make it accessible – not just ADA-compatible, but with things like a proper search function and language accessibility.

Austin’s system includes a tool to help neighbourhood groups stay on top of development plans in their area, an online commenting system for constituents and accessibility in meeting places around the city. With 60 boards and commissions, standardizing procedures is important, as is live-streaming of their meetings, rather than publishing the meeting minutes after the fact.

CM Pool is looking to the IAP2 model for some difficult conversations coming up in the next year: re-designing streets to accommodate bicycles. Changing parking regulations and giving over space for bike lanes can always be counted on to generate controversy, and she says following IAP2’s procedures will allow for greater explanations and understanding among the competing interests.

 

mayor-coombsDENNIS COOMBS – LONGMONT, COLORADO

Community involvement in this city of 93,000, 37 miles (60 km) north of Denver, goes back to 2001. The council of the day realized that multiple inputs make for better decisions.

Mayor Coombs says Longmont’s strength is in its diversity. Diversity of perspectives, cultures and ages strengthen the process because as we engage the entire community, we create more a thorough, informed decision-making.

A great example of the community being involved was in the planning to become a “gigabit city” – offering fiber-to-the-home broadband access to its residents. State law requires that any plan to provide broadband be approved by voters. Broadband providers mounted an opposition campaign that Mayor Coombs says included misleading statements and misinformation, so it was important to give the citizens the facts and involve them in the planning. By sticking to the IAP2 model, he says, the proposal was approved and then a bond issue in order to pay for it passed with 66% in favor.

Without engagement, Mayor Coombs says, they could never have accomplished that. It was a matter of getting the correct facts and figures to the most people and involving them in the services they expect from their local government.

Another big P2 project is Envision Longmont; a year-long project to develop a comprehensive plan for the city’s future. So far, Mayor Coombs says, it’s been a huge success.

Watch the whole webinar and download some of the presenters’ collateral material here.