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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Public participation in transportation planning : learning from the Vancouver ’CityPlan’ experience Haines, Evan Rhys


A review of the key literature on participatory planning and transportation planning indicates that there are practically no empirical case studies of public participation in transportation planning and how such cases relate to the generic participatory planning literature. The lack of research is unfortunate because the unique features of transportation planning suggest that this field requires a distinctive set of prescriptions for organizing and facilitating public participation. The avowedly participatory process employed to produce the 1997 Transportation Plan of Vancouver, British Columbia, provides one valuable case from which to draw lessons about opportunities, constraints, and effective strategies for enhancing public participation in transportation planning. The case has been studied for this thesis through open-ended, in-depth interviews with key informants involved in the process leading to the 1997 plan. The findings from the Vancouver case fall under eight categories: the potential and limitations of consensus-building, the role of political will, cooperation between planners and engineers, forms of representation, opportunities for social learning, plan implementation, the degree of detail, and impact assessments. Some of these findings are similar to those in the generic participation literature, but others seem to be novel, indicating that, indeed, the transportation planning sector is a unique field in this topic area. It is concluded that further research could be profitably undertaken on: the role of political will in making the shift to a sustainable transportation system; the potentials and limitations of consensus building as a tool for making such a shift; the necessity of planners and transportation engineers to work together; the level of detail required to render a transportation plan 'implementable' and the various roles individuals can play in participatory transportation planning processes.

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