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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Citizen participation and the redevelopment of urban land : a case study of the north shore of False Creek Folkes, Sharon


The objective of this thesis is to analyze and evaluate the citizen participation process for the planning of Pacific Place on the north shore of False Creek in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Pacific Place development is a large-scale comprehensive development which will change the character of Vancouver over the next ten years. A literature review of citizen participation was undertaken. This identifies the basic elements of democracy and citizen participation - political equality, popular sovereignty, representation, and the public interest. The current form of representative democracy and elite decision making in society today is accepted and results in a recognition of interests and power in the decision making process. A model which accounts for these elements is selected for the analysis and evaluation of the Pacific Place citizen participation process. The Benwell model of citizen participation contains six dimensions: 1. representational - representativeness, general public, interest groups, goals and objectives of the actors; 2. citizen involvement - the participation techniques used; 3. form of communication - information dispersal, information gathering, interaction between planners and public; 4. phasing/timing - vis a vis the planning process; 5. power/influence/authority - success in meeting goals and objectives; 6. scale of decision - political context, scale of development. It is concluded that the process was representative and that the extent of the techniques was good. The process was constrained by the goals and objectives of the City and the developer, the lack of variety in techniques, the form of communication, the multi-phased planning process, the political context, and the scale of development. The power/influence/authority dimension shows that the City and developer were successful in meeting their objectives and thus wield more power. While some public and group objectives were achieved it is difficult to determine whether this was a result of the planners' influence or citizen input. Therefore power is attributed, with uncertainty, to certain groups and the general public. The Pacific Place citizen participation process, while extensive, cannot be described as truly participatory according to popular theory and analytical frameworks for citizen participation as no advisory role, influence, or decision making responsibility was guaranteed to the public. The potential of citizen participation is discussed in relation to democracy, urban development, and power. It is concluded that true participation is difficult to achieve but that some level of participation beyond informing and consulting must be promoted in order to bring planning closer to democratic values. It is recommended that the process could be improved with a variety of techniques such as workshops, better questionnaires or surveys, a citizen advisory committee, and a newspaper insert. Recommendation for theory and future research are also provided.

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