Reflections on Deliberative Models for City Planning and Knowledge Exchange with a Growing Field

By Nicole Armos

March 05, 2024

Knowledge & Practice Manager, Nicole Armos, shares her reflections on deliberative models for city planning and knowledge exchange with a growing field.

2024 is quickly picking up its pace at the Centre for Dialogue's Knowledge and Practice Office, and I'm not surprised that I have started to slip on my goal of blogging about our activities every couple weeks! But here is a snapshot of where we've been and who were talking to.

In the Community

Aftab Erfan and I co-facilitated the second meeting of the City of New Westminster's pilot Community Advisory Assembly, using storytelling and mapping to explore City’s Council's strategic priority of fostering belonging and connection. Meanwhile, the K&P Office has also been supporting our colleagues launch two other community assemblies in the City of Burnaby and the Town of Gibsons, which will convene over four to six weekends to provide recommendations for their updated Official Community Plan (OCP).

The alignment of these three deliberative processes offers a unique chance to study the design and outcomes of this model in different municipal contexts, ranging from a community of 4,600 residents, to one with 250,000. In light of recent legislation requiring local governments to update their OCPs every five years and prohibiting public hearings for housing-focused rezonings that are consistent with the plan, it’s a critical moment to innovate equitable and effective models for public participation in land use planning. Stay tuned for evaluation findings from our Renovate the Public Hearing project this summer.

In the Lab

We're collaborating with MASS LBP and the University of British Columbia to plan a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the BC Citizens’ Assembly on electoral reform at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. This was the first assembly held anywhere in the world, serving as a model for hundreds more to come. This September event will come on the heels of the annual gathering of global deliberative democracy practitioners and researchers at the DR&D conference that is coming to Vancouver. If you’re a local practitioner or commissioner of deliberative processes, get in touch for ways to participate!

The Centre has also just launched an updated website where it's easier to learn about the Knowledge & Practice Office and the many initiatives at the Centre. Have a look around and we’ll be expanding our resources soon

100 Cups of Tea

As new members of People Powered’s global network for public participation, we joined a February workshop on compiling impact data for participatory democracy.

Closer to home, we joined SFU’s MobilizeU learning cohort for knowledge mobilization to share our experiences engaging audiences through public and stakeholder engagement.

What I'm Reading

Keeping with this month’s theme, I’ve been diving into DemocracyNext’s report on six ways to democratise city planning, which outlines six scenarios where it may be strategic to initiate a deliberative assembly that can be adapted to city’s institutional, political, socio-economic and cultural contexts.

The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue’s Office of Knowledge and Practice is dedicated to building capacity in dialogue and working to advance innovation, equity and systems change for participatory democracy.

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