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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluation of participant satisfaction with the policy committee portion of the Greater Vancouver Regional District Livable Region Plan Program Tweddell, Gordon Ralph

Abstract

Public participation in the planning process has become a common feature of many planning programs and numerous citizen participation strategies have been attempted to achieve the variety of benefits that result from citizen input to planning. It is the author's contention that, apart from being of benefit to the plan making process directly, a successful citizen participation methodology should be a satisfying experience for the participants so that their involvement in future programs is assured. This study tests participant satisfaction with the citizen Policy Committee portion of the GVRD Livable Region Program and suggests means of improving participant satisfaction with similar programs. The study begins, Chapter One, by reviewing the theory of transactive planning and noting its citizen participant satisfying aspects. Chapter Two details the development of the GVRD planning function, with special emphasis on the Livable Region Program and its precursors, demonstrates the similarity between the transactive planning style and GVRD planning practise, and from a review of the citizen Policy Committee minutes and reports suggests questions for the testing of participant satisfaction. Chapter Three summarizes the form and content of the resulting questionnaire and describes the manner in which it was administered to a sample of Policy Committee members. The completed and returned questionnaires were transferred to computer cards and analyzed by means of computer generated cross tabulations of questionnaire responses by participant Committee affiliation and in certain instances by other participant characteristics. The results, Chapter Four, indicate participant dissatisfaction in virtually all the major question categories; theoretical participant satisfying criteria, Committee role and function, representativeness, communications, professional aid to the Committees, and Committee dynamics. The only area of general participant satisfaction was with administrative and secretarial services to the Committees. The author has concluded, Chapter Five, that although participant dissatisfactions are complexly related, with each particular dissatisfaction influencing and being influenced by numerous other dissatisfactions, the basic cause of these difficulties was that the GVRD attempted too much in too short a period of time. The author recommends that planning agencies devising public participation programs: 1) ensure that the agency staff and the politicians are committed to the ideals of citizen participation in planning so that program problems which may arise will be dealt with in a positive manner; 2) cautiously assess the agency's resources, particularly staff and information services, and the politicians' time so that the participation remains manageable; 3) incorporate flexibility into the citizen involvement strategy so that the program can be tuned to the agency's needs and the community's desire for participation.

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