Taking care of business? An evaluation of public engagement with local businesses along the Canada Line

Author/s: Jillian Glover

Creation date: 2010

Contact info: jgloverneve@gmail.com

Senior supervisor:  Meg Holden

Keywords: Canada Line, Collaborative planning, Collaborative participation, Shared decision-making, Public consultation, Businesses 

Geographic focus: Vancouver, BC; British Columbia; Canada

Research question/s: How did the early consultation strategy compare to a collaborative participation model? Could this model have been suitable to apply at this stage? Once the project shifted to cut-and-cover construction a consultation strategy with several elements of collaborative participation was introduced, how effective was it?

Significance

This study examines the consultation process with affected businesses before and during construction of the Canada Line, a rapid transit line in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, and one of the first public-private-partnerships in the region. Because of the specific, adverse impacts that the Canada Line had on local businesses, the author’s primary interest was to examine the public consultation process that occurred with affected businesses before and during the Canada Line’s construction. Major public transportation infrastructure projects like the Canada Line can hold significant benefits for adjacent communities, but their construction can also disrupt the lives of the businesses and residents along their proposed routes. Public consultation becomes a means for mitigating the conflict between those negatively impacted and those wanting to move the project forward. However, few have sought to evaluate the level and effectiveness of public consultation on major rapid transit projects, particularly those that involve a public-private-partnership. This study helps fill that gap.

Findings

The author conducted a survey on businesses along the Canada Line, interviewed stakeholders involved in the consultation process and analyzed documents. Based on the collected data, the author found that a collaborative participation model was introduced after it was revealed that the project would be built using predominantly cut-and-cover construction. Several principles of collaborative participation could have improved relations between Canada Line partners and businesses if they had been applied earlier in the planning process.