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Using decision analysis to identify good institutional arrangements for local planning Hunter, Dale William


This paper addresses a complex policy problem: "What are good institutional arrangements for local or neighbourhood planning in Vancouver?" The question has been the subject of analysis, debate and planning in a number of different forums over the past two decades and more, most recently in CityPlan, a large-scale participatory planning exercise. The study described here approached this issue as a decision analysis problem. Decision analysis is a set of analysis procedures that has been used successfully to incorporate public and multiplestakeholder input into complex decision making, in resource management issues for example. This analysis approach focusses on systematic identification and structuring of objectives that are correlated to values of stakeholders. It is used to analyze how alternatives perform from the point of view of different stakeholders who weight objectives (and predict impacts) differently from each other. Case studies suggest that this analysis framework has heuristic power and is capable of identifying and structuring good-fit solutions for conflicting interests. The key question addressed in this paper is whether this analysis approach can be used to advantage in an urban planning setting where there is citizen participation in complex policy questions. The analysis process described here was undertaken with the participation of 30 individuals from a range of stakeholder types, including citizens, developers, city staff, and city council. It completed three steps of decision analysis: identifying and structuring objectives; identifying and structuring alternatives; and predicting the impacts of alternatives on objectives. The results permit some initial judgements about the acceptability and potential productivity of this analysis approach in the study setting.

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