UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation framework for citizen participation in urban transportation planning Innes, Robert George


Although the planning and implementation of recent transportation projects have attempted to involve the public at critical stages, the persistence of conflicts between an efficient metropolitan transportation system and the needs of residents of the quiet enjoyment of their communities suggests the need to study and evaluate the effectiveness of participatory planning. This thesis explores the role of citizen participation in urban transportation planning and proposes an evaluation framework which is tested through its application to two recent transportation projects. This framework includes nine requisites for effective citizen participation which were drawn from the literature and the review of other related transportation case studies. These requisites relate to: •Objectives Defined •Good Timing •Effective Communications •Accessibility to the Process •Government Responsiveness •Community Representation •Commitment •Credibility •Flexibility By drawing on the experiences and perceptions of key participants of each case, the thesis assessed the effectiveness of each program. An evaluation matrix which is also based on these requisites is also proposed as a planning tool. The framework is tested through its application to the Cassiar Street Connector case in Vancouver and the Kensington Avenue Overpass project in Burnaby. Selected participants covering the local community, and appointed and elected municipal and provincial officials who were involved in each case were interviewed. Through their perceptions and insights, the framework was used to assess the effectiveness of the citizen participation component of the case. Results suggest that the framework can be considered a positive step towards a more general framework and towards a general improvement in the field of evaluation. While not a conclusive or exhaustive list of requisites, the framework does offer the advantage of including those requisites which, according to both the literature and the interviewees, are fundamental to participatory planning. The proposed matrix should be considered as an effective planning tool which allows for evaluation and monitoring complete participation programs as well as focussing on a specific requisite. Furthermore, it can be used as both an interim and final report card on a citizen participation program. The matrix also lends itself to a spreadsheet application. The thesis suggests the importance of a well defined organizational structure for citizen participation such as an advisory body or supervisory committee. These structures appear to offer advantages in providing a forum for the major participants, including the affected communities, to participate effectively in the planning process. Furthermore, the thesis recommends that the Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Highways' transportation planning efforts would benefit from a strong public consultation function, to complement its engineering and technical mandates.

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