Article by Bob Ransford, quoting in part:
It’s time to try something new to craft long-term plans to manage growth in our neighbourhoods and cities.
It’s time to try a process that puts the public interest ahead of personal interests or neighbourhood interests. It’s time for a more deliberative approach to decision-making, rather than the adversarial approach that is often the final step in most planning processes today.
As the Metro Vancouver region continues to intensify with inevitable population growth, the issues of accommodating and managing that growth become increasingly more complex. Not a day goes by when we don’t hear or read something in the mainstream media about angry citizens fighting city hall over neighbourhood plans or protesting against a proposed development project. Twitter timelines and Facebook posts perpetually produce baskets full of dirty laundry, streaming endless negativity that guarantees the impossibility of public consensus.
It doesn’t seem to matter how much outreach is done by planners in crafting long-term plans or how many concessions developers try to make to accommodate community interests. People still feel they weren’t heard. They believe their interests weren’t considered when decisions were made. They don’t buy into plans that are being put in place. Good planning suffers.
I’ve talked before about more collaborative forms of planning. I am a big believer in getting right to the task of physical planning — involving the public in designing the form-makers of places, instead of talking about visions, values, aspirations, goals, rules and regulations. The discipline of the charrette, a design-based collaborative planning methodology, works best for this.
But before you try to involve people in finding solutions to physical problems and drawing and designing places, you need to involve them in making the tough decisions. You need to know the direction everyone wants to go. You need to define key principles that will direct how you are going to get there. That means making trade-offs, making the tough decisions.
Good planning requires good public decision-making. Good public decision-making requires plenty of public trust. To earn public trust, decision-makers need to bring the considered judgment of everyday people to bear