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  • 31 Jan 2018 6:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    January, 2016

    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

    I have been in the P2 field for five years. In 2011, I joined Acertys, a Montreal-based consulting firm that specialises in community relations and public consultation processes. Very recently, our team joined the engagement strategies practice at Hill + Knowlton Strategies (H+K), a strategic communications consulting firm. This milestone is not only a new step in my career as a P2 practitioner but also an indicator of some of the current trends within the practice.

    What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

    My academic background is not directly related to P2, as I have degrees in psychology and commerce. My first contact with P2 was more a matter of chance when, in 2008, I started working for Borealis, a company specializing in the management of social and environmental data for large infrastructure projects. Borealis’ work is closely related to the P2 processes aiming to obtain and keep these projects’ social licence to operate.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    Practically every week, as I work with a highly competent team, but I am mostly amazed by the range of tools, processes and possibilities offered by technology in the P2 field. However, after a few setbacks, I have also learned the importance of being able to keep things simple for participants, as we are all overwhelmed daily by the vast amounts of information and choices that technology offers us.

    What “big wins” have you had?

    I would say that the P2 practice is more about “small” wins over time, but I would cite some of my experiences as a co-facilitator in conflict resolution processes as success stories. In these processes, you can really see the power of dialogue and the results that can come from it over a short period of time. As an example, I was involved in a mediation project in which two organizations with two different missions had failed for more than a decade to come to an agreement for sharing their existing and future facilities. We worked with the two parties by taking a step back and exploring new options in a very practical and “thinking outside the box” way. After only a few sessions, we reached a successful agreement.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    P2 is a very broad field with many possibilities. Do not hesitate to try and experiment with various type of roles, responsibilities and/or projects, in order to find what best suits your strengths and values.

  • 29 Jan 2018 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

    I don’t consider myself a P2 practitioner, but I’ve been involved with it for many years.

    I started with construction in Montreal after doing engineering school at École Polytechnique. Then in the late 80s, I started working as a consultant, specializing in urban revitalisation and heritage preservation projects. It was when I was working on my Masters at Université de Montréal on heritage preservation and land use that I developed an interest in P2.  

    The 1980s was not a good time for Montréal. The city was very depressed, particularly the poor parts of town, and the whole city needed an electro-shock. You had to create your own jobs, and that’s what I did.

    After I got my Masters, one of my projects was an urban revitalization project in Plateau Mont-Royal – a neighbourhood in Montréal. Going from academic work to a real project I found I needed to get people involved. On top of that, I had discovered that the actual engineering work – calculations and that sort of thing – was not my passion. I learned I was more of a communicator than a “numbers person”.

    So P2 became a tool – a way of getting people involved, invested and engaged, getting people to have a shared vision of their neighbourhood, their street. Some people see P2 as an end in itself – a way to make things more democratic: for me, it was a case of “how do you get this project done?”

    Eventually – in the mid-90s -- I started a non-profit in Montréal, supporting local economic development and urban revitalization initiatives. With a non-profit, participation is important: you have to have a collaborative environment among employees and the Board. We worked in different neighbourhoods. We experienced the different cultural environments and learned to adapt to the different cultures in places like Chinatown, Park Extension or Westmount. Working in those different realities, you learn how to adjust processes – and and yourself.

    In the early 2000s, I had an interesting project that changed my way of seeing things. It was the transformation of a former veterans’ housing project in NDG (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce section of Montréal), which was extremely controversial for many years. There was lots of fighting among local residents and community groups. I was working on several projects in that area, and the federal agency that owned the piece of land asked me if I could help resolve the conflict and come up with a common vision for the site.

    That changed my perspective and allowed me to bring different stakeholders – with different interests and needs – together. Seeing the skills required to reconcile those interests got me interested in facilitation.

    I was focused early in my career on mobilizing communities, and I found that proponents of projects were having difficulty getting support for their projects locally. People don’t want projects imposed on them; they want to be part of it. There were developers who didn’t have the capacity to reach out to communities and get involved in dialogue and they had projects to work on. So I changed my practice and started a consulting firm – Acertys -- to work with them, focusing on community relations, conflict resolution when needed and communications. I changed my perspective on the type of tools you need to use to make large-scale projects successful.

    We started working on other projects, such as railways, hospitals and energy, and broadened our geographic scope beyond Montréal.

    And then Hill + Knowlton took over your company.

    P2 is in an interesting state. PR & communications companies are merging with P2 and taking up the idea bringing people together, rather than pushing themselves through. H+K wanted to strengthen its Quebec presence and was interested in Acertys’ urban development and infrastructure experience. Now, I’m the leading expert for that sector for H+K and support internal teams and clients in some of the most significant transportation, public transit, real-estate, energy and institutional projects across the country.

    Have you noticed differences as you move outside Montréal?

    There are different sensitivities, but humans are humans. I’m always trying to figure out the needs of people who are involved in a project, since they do differ from one neighbourhood to another and from one city to another. But as I work on different projects – also in agricultural areas, which are obviously different – what surprises me is how similar the job is. It’s similar in that you always have to adapt yourself – find out about the local culture and not try to make it adapt to you.

    Look at Toronto: it’s a booming city, growing at an incredible pace. The issues are different from Montréal, but everything boils down to the same thing: quality of life. People want to make sure they protect that, and their property values. You’ll find that everywhere, and when you get down to basic needs on a human scale, beyond the social differences and context, there are always the same characteristics that need to be respected.

    What learning experiences have you had?

    Every project is a learning experience, because they’re all so different. The NDG project was an eye-opener, because I was lucky enough to be involved for three or four years and see the evolution of the project from vision to completion and see the stakeholders get involved in the process. It seemed like an impossible thing at the beginning; and this seems to be the case in many projects where you have people expressing positions in public meetings.

    Often, what they express is not their real need, but more of a positioning. That was an eye-opener, being able to get down to see their individual needs. Often as p2 practitioners, we expect there’s a big collective movement in one direction, but each person has an individual need, and when you’re dealing with a mass of people, one of the difficulties is to get down to that individual level. That realization led me to change my practices.

    The other learning experience is that over the years, it seems that each P2 process leads to more conflict. We think that P2 leads to more consensus, but really, as more people get voices and want to be heard, that increases the diversity of interests and needs that have to be considered.

    In fact, P2 and alternative dispute resolution are distant cousins but members of the same family – part of the same toolbox.

    So you need to take a mediation approach to get representation of those interests around the table and it becomes a negotiation process to get solutions that are mutually acceptable. That’s how I approach new assignments now.

    Is that realistic?

    You can’t please everybody, that’s for sure, but I think when there’s an understanding from all parts that the needs of everyone involved have to be considered, there’s an acceptance of the need to address all these different needs and interests. You don’t often find reaching out and negotiating in P2, but that’s become an important aspect of my work. If people have a sense that they have some kind of control over the end result and that they have made a contribution, they’re more likely to accept it.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    The value you bring is not only your knowledge of p2 mechanics, but the knowledge of one area of practice. More often now, I see P2 practitioners in a specific field: find an area where you have a particular knowledge and expertise, and that can help you understand complex situations.

    To a young practitioner, I would say: first, have a very diverse practice and find out about different sectors and cultural contexts, whether it’s the health sector, development, social planning, public policy, transportation. Then, find one that is your niche -- the place where you are an expert, not just a P2 practitioner.

    I know a lot of P2 practitioners won’t agree with that, and say that you have to be distanced from the subject, but I believe knowing the industry you’re working with is becoming the norm – not the exception.

    And don’t be afraid to question. P2 is not a religion: there’s a lot of transformation in society and we have to keep questioning ourselves.

    (Listen to Jacques taking part in the IAP2 August 2017 Webinar: “Montréal Encore – ‘Understanding the Squishy Stuff’ + ‘Are We Smarter Together?’”here.)

  • 25 Jan 2018 7:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I’ve been in P2 for about 5 years now, and only became a member of IAP2 Canada in early 2015 through my role with the City of Toronto. My background is in landscape architecture – I earned my Bachelor’s in landscape architecture and my Master’s in design writing and I found a job that combined the two disciplines.

    NELISCHER - GODERICH-2 

    My career in public participation started with The Planning Partnership in Toronto, where I worked under the direction of Donna Hinde. Donna is a landscape architect by training and has been working in P2 for decades. I really couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the field. She is a leader in P2 for planning and design projects, and is constantly finding new ways to engage stakeholders. Landscape architecture is a very public-facing profession. You’re creating places that people enjoy, like plazas or streetscapes, so inherent in that is involving the public in those designs. You’re not only designing something the public will enjoy but involving them in that process.

    When you’re creating any kind of infrastructure, you’re always going to run into controversy about what’s cost-effective and even about what’s beautiful. People have opinions and this breeds a great discussion and a great forum. I’ve always been an inclusionary type: you have to be in this trade, because you’re working with all sorts of different people with different ideas and points of view. We’ve never gone to the public with a fully-formed design: I believe the P2 part should always come in the earliest phases of a project, and in my experience, it usually does.

    From the Planning Partnership, I went to the City of Brampton as coordinator of community engagement there. I had a chance to work with Olga Lukich and learn more from her, then I came to Toronto in 2015, under the direction of Tracy Manolakakis. I’m fortunate to be able to work on a variety of projects including transportation, planning, engineering, and construction projects

    The Public Consultation Unit at the City of Toronto has been around for a long time and the city of TO works to engage the public in its projects. Tracy is a real champion of P2 and has worked incredibly hard to ensure that public consultation has been involved in every project that we’ve worked on and that’s resulted in a better process overall.

    Do any projects in particular stand out?NELISCHER - YORK-2

    There are two. One is the York University Master Plan (see the "Idea Wall" at left), which I worked on at the Planning Partnership. They’ve had a long history with York University, and this was a very interesting project because it was a large scale and involved so many different communities. We had to engage students, faculty, staff, seniors, administrators, and the community in the area of the campus. Finding the right ways to engage them was challenging, as was balancing each group’s needs in the master plan. We had wonderful opportunities to engage with the campus community with that. Through that process, Donna Hinde won the Gold Facilitation Impact from the International Association of Facilitators for the project.

    The second one is more recent: in 2015, with the City of Toronto, I worked with Transportation Services on a project called “Peak Hours”. The idea was to improve streetcar flow along Queen Street (pictured below), College Street and Dundas Street by changing some of the morning and afternoon rush hour driving restrictions – when there’s no on-street parking. The rush hours would be extended and reduced in some places.

    QUEEN STREET CARS 

    So we had to look at where the restrictions are, but the routes go through six wards, so we had a number of different communities and BIAs involved. Transportation Services had gathered an incredible amount of data and brought forward the proposals.

    My colleague, Maogosha Pyjor – also a senior public consultation coordinator – and I took them to the public and the BIAs at a number of public events and meetings. These locals know the area -- for example, where seniors’ homes and medical clinics are, where people would need to be dropped off from cars at the curb. Some of the Transportation Services’ proposals did change as a result of the input we got. So the changes were implemented this past December, and Transportation Services is monitoring their impact.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    I had the opportunity to work on a lot of smaller neighbourhood-scale projects, and I’ve learned a lot about community relations and that no project is ‘too small’ to have consultation. What seems like “minor” changes turn out to have a big impact on the people living there; so that’s something I try to keep in mind with these projects.

    What “big wins” have you had?

    goderich-tornado-3 The one that comes to mind that was a “big win”, when I was at The Planning Partnership and I was able to work with the team on the Goderich Re-Build master plan. This was after the tornado in 2011 that devastated the town. I was so impressed by the willingness of the community to get involved in the rebuilding: the meetings were packed and it resulted in a plan that was truly supported by the community.

    The Planning Partnership went on to work on rebuilding the downtown including the central square, replacing the trees they had lost.

    NELISCHER - GODERICH-3 .

     

     

     

     

     

  • 25 Jan 2018 7:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

    I took the formal P2 training in 2014, but I’ve been involved with P2 for about 10 years without really knowing it. While I was a journalism instructor at MacEwan University, I taught students about citizen participation in the news, tracing its emergence and development in the news profession over a period of 10 years. The challenges faced by news organizations to involve citizens in news decision-making are similar to the challenges faced by all organizations – governments, businesses are all facing increased demands in decision-making and policy development.

    Why is it important for citizens to be involved in the decisions a newsroom makes? Changing technologies facilitate much more immediate collaboration and cooperation with citizens, and the news industry has been struggling with how to deal with that like all organizations. News professionals have been experimenting with “citizen journalism” over the years, allowing citizens to do everything from attempting to help write editorials to sharing video footage and photos of live news events, but really, there’s still a hierarchy of newsroom decision-making that’s resulted in keeping some doors closed: ordinary citizens are allowed on the front end – sharing their ideas -- or on the back end – commenting – but the doors to the inside, where news decisions are made, are still shut to citizens for the most part.

    We see that now with public engagement: the actual decision-making is still done by the “man behind the curtain”; the challenge for governments and news agencies is to be more transparent and to permit more decision-making power to citizens. The issue of what decision doors should be opened and which doors should be closed still needs to be addressed.

    The basic problem is that you have evidence that comes from experts and evidence that comes from non-experts, and the problem is to blend the different types of knowledge so they work together. How can newsrooms incorporate the citizen perspective to make the news? And how do governments make decisions and involve citizen voices? How do you gather all the information and make sense of it and then report what you get from citizens to help the experts make the final decision?

    It’s about a clash of different knowledge and for years, we’ve “privileged” expert knowledge, but now we’re seeing a rise in the non-expert knowledge, and the challenge is to blend the two.
    What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

    In 1999-2000, I sought training at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto in “New Media Design”. I was one of first cohorts in this innovative program, which is still offered today.

    I’m what you call an early adopter of innovation, and that’s how I see P2: it is an innovation and a way of giving up control and engaging audiences. That was what led me into online journalism … looking at new ways of doing things, harnessing different voices and making sense of lots of different information and knowledge. It’s about innovation and adapting, and not everyone does it well. I use the lens of innovation to help work with clients to help them find an approach. Innovation is a journey fuelled by change through a social process and it takes time.

    Part of the approach is to create realistic expectations for P2. If you simply have one-off events – if you or your organization think you can do something in one shot and that that alone is going to get you the information you need, I challenge that. There has to be an approach, rather than symptomatic treatment of things, which is what I came to realize, putting together this White Paper.

    It needs time – a 2-year window, in one study I looked at – to trace the impacts and evaluate the outcomes of public participation. The City of Edmonton, where I live, is going through major innovation through a Council initiative on Public Engagement, and I was invited to be part of it by participating on the working group on evaluation, reporting and awards.  An audit report found the citizens of Edmonton said “we’re done with open houses,” and on-high, there’s a realization that the City has to change. It requires massive innovation and corporate cultural change.

    We need more evaluation in order to build the body of evidence as to the benefits of P2. Research shows that a multiple-method approach reaches more people. I think there’s a recognition that there needs to be a different approach. We need to be more collaborative and move away from the low end of the Engagement Spectrum.

    It’s starting to happen: organizations are starting to review the ways that they engage their citizens, and not because people say they want to do something online. They also want better face-to-face engagement, where their ideas can feed off one another.

    It’s an interesting, exciting time, and we need to do evaluation to learn. We don’t know what’s effective, and that’s what hit me when I was writing the White Paper on public participation.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    For me, I’ve been steeped in this for years, and the massive realization that I’m part of this growing trend of citizens, eager to be part of the process, has been a revelation in itself.

    I’ve been studying Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers over the last couple of years, and it has been one of the best reads of my life, helping me understand myself, all the things I’ve done and witnessed, and the organizations where I have worked. It influences the work I do now, in fact. And Rogers’ insights helped me develop an understanding that P2 is fundamentally about innovation in organizations and about organizations struggling to adopt the innovation. I realized I’d been doing that for years – tracing it innovation for years in the news industry.

    P2 is about changing organizational behaviours and citizens’ behaviours – they need to trust in the system and that changes they hear about are actually happening. It will take time and strategy, but all parties need to adopt the innovation of engagement in order to make our democracy more meaningful and relevant. Newcomers to Canada especially need to be encouraged to participate and not be marginalized.

    It’s an exciting time: we have a world that needs solutions to complex problems and we need citizens to be part of the solution.

    Part of the task is to educate the news media. Traditional media still have the power to frame the issues. News media professionals can raise some good questions concerning transparency about the way governments do P2: how authentic is the process – how much money -- how transparent is it?

    The media are used to public open houses, but open houses have been the tool of the day for years for institutions, and they actually may have discouraged people from coming out. You hear about the fisticuffs and loud voices – free-for-alls, but that was the only place where people could say their piece, and the media witnessed the divisiveness and reported on it, which is their responsibility. But there needs to be different techniques to engage people who have divisive views so they can disagree agreeably.

    There aren’t enough public spaces to vent, which is why social media is so popular … lots of people are talking but are people listening? The answer, I believe, is no based on evidence about people’s social media usage behaviours.

    I’m concerned that, with things like climate change and the point where we’re at in society with the growing gap between the rich and those who are not, we need to have better dialogue on how to solve problems.

    Some newspapers are starting to focus on solutions, rather than problems and controversy. Reporters ought to be asking what governments and organizations are doing with the information gathered from citizen engagement efforts, what I call “citizen evidence”, and not just covering the emotion and outrage. Government reports are written, but fully accounting for what’s been done with that citizen evidence in terms of how it has been considered in decision-making isn’t happening. News media could do a better job pressing for governments’ accountability.

    When it comes to evaluation – which is the topic of my White Paper – we need to know how much weight is given to public comments in decision-making. The leading tool I recommended – PPEET (the Public and Patient Engagement Evaluation Tool, winner of the 2014 IAP2 Canada Core Values Award for Research Project of the Year) – addresses organizational context and organizational accountability for how citizen feedback was used in decision-making. There are many variables that influence the effectiveness of P2 and that needs to be considered, like organizational culture and what’s going on socially, politically, economically, environmentally.

    It’s a dance – we all dance together – we live in the same space, we share the same resources, and we need to have safe places where we can express ourselves. The media play a role, so do citizens, stakeholders, groups with vested interests in the goings-on in the community. That includes P2 practitioners.

    P2 is a tool for hearing voices and listening to people, finding out what people think about issues, feeding their messages to the decision-makers and letting citizens be part of the decision-making process.

    What “big wins” have you had?

    My recent big win was with engagement workshops I designed and facilitated for the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL). There’s been a push to change city regulations for mature neighborhoods with what’s called the MNO review – Mature Neighbourhood Overlay—which is ultimately about dealing with infill development in mature neighbourhoods as the city grows. A lot of people say it’s really open season for developers. My house was built in 1952 and the yard is so big, people could play soccer in it. Now according to expert opinion, the solution is to increase density in cities rather than continue  to permit urban sprawl, and this means changes to mature neighbourhoods like mine. It was a challenging topic, but it turned out to be a success. We’ve been able to narrow down the scope and turn the workshops into something concrete and specific, facilitating a collaborative and dialogue-driven workshop for league members to learn more about mature neighbourhood regulations. The regulations are up for review and the EFCL wants to get its members ready to take part in the City of Edmonton’s P2 process.

    But it’s a dry topic and complex -- so what do you do? I worked with the EFCL to design workshops with a learning component, which was easy for me to create given my instructional design background in teaching. And I felt confident about this approach because the evaluation evidence I researched for the White Paper shows that people want to come out of an engagement process feeling like they’ve learned something, and that they evaluate the success of a P2 process through this lens. We had people prioritize the mature neighbourhood regulations based on their values related to mature neighbourhood characteristics. They were so engaged that they stayed a half an hour longer than originally planned in order to complete the last activity, and they asked for more workshops. The evaluation tool that I recommend in the white paper for P2 practitioners to use was intended for the health care field, but I successfully adapted it for the EFCL, and it worked well. The tool is meant to be adapted.

    The workshops helped league members build capacity and prepare to engage effectively at the City’s public engagement activities on mature neighbourhoods. The City of Edmonton has put so much money into its public engagement strategy and is re-grouping and changing its corporate culture … and it will come back in their face if they don’t follow through with the MNO and listen to citizens’ ideas.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    New practitioners need to develop skills in evaluation, or at least develop an understanding of evaluation of P2, and they need to get accustomed to being more rigorously evaluated. As I explain in the white paper, we live in a world of evidence-based decision-making and practitioners are facing increasing pressure to provide evidence that P2 is effective. That’s why we need more rigorous evaluation of p2 that we design and facilitate – and newcomers to the profession may need to have that in their skill set.

  • 23 Jan 2018 6:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

    P2 has been part of my professional responsibilities for just over 5 years.  However, I’ve been reading, learning and intrigued about P2 since early 2006, and actually doing P2, unknowingly for about 13 years. I completed the P2 Certificate in 2013 and got accepted for the IAP2 Mentorship Program in 2013. I then joined the IAP2 Board as a Deputy Director in 2014 and attended the NA Conference in Winnipeg in the Fall of 2014. I’m currently on the IAP2 Atlantic Chapter Board.

    My career path is somewhat unorthodox.  I have an education degree, specifically physical education, and began my working career in the public school system.  After 3 years, I chose to follow my passion for hockey and joined Hockey Canada. I spent 6 plus years in the development side of the game educating, coaching and promoting best practices with volunteers, parents and local minor hockey associations.

    DIEPPE 1In 2003, I decided to return closer to home and began a new challenge as Deputy Director of the City of Dieppe Community Recreational Department.  This role had me work very closely with our citizens and not for profit sector.  After 3 years in that position, the Chief Administrator Officer of the time offered that I join his office to work on Corporate Initiatives related to continuous improvements.  This lead to also working closer with elected officials.

    What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

    Questions around protocol and governance got my attention when I realized how much politics played a role in the city’s decisions.  As I was under the impression that some key decisions at both management and city council levels were made in the absence of valuable data, I began Googling for best practices in governance and decision making.  This is where I found IAP2 and a whole new world out there!!!

    As a public servant, I had a goal of serving for the greater good.  As an engaged and active Dieppe citizen, I had an interest in knowing our tax dollars were well spent and was hoping to contribute positively to the development of my community beyond my professional responsibilities.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    When I first saw the IAP2 Spectrum, it clarified a lot of questions and confusing thoughts I had from all the reading I had done.  It was at that time I could finally bring the theoretical and practical aspects of P2 together.  It brought up the fact that we were doing some good things at the city level but that we were missing out on clarifying the Why we do P2 in the first place.

    What “big wins” have you had?

    The adoption of a municipal P2 Policy in 2014 was certainly a positive step towards institutionalizing public participation.  However, our Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) in 2015 was also a huge step in getting city council to actually agree to put some concrete action behind our P2 Policy.  I was the “internal champion” with the city, and council agreed to move the process forward. We hired consultants from the Participatory Budgeting Project out of New York City to help build the process. Close to twenty people signed up to be on the steering committee and we made sure they represented the rich, poor, young, old, educated, non-educated.

    The committee developed the guidelines for the projects that could go on the ballot and the consultants from PBP shared best practices from other jurisdictions; the committee then decided what would work for Dieppe.

    One decision council had to make was who was eligible to vote: with PB, you don’t have to be a Canadian citizen to vote: if you live in the community, you have a right to say where your taxes go; council also agreed to let kids as young as Grade 6 vote – so you had 11 or 12-year-olds whose vote had the same weight as a 96-year-old.dieppe aquatic 

    Council put $300-thousand on the table – Dieppe’s total budget is about $45 million – and then stepped back to let staff and consultants put the committee’s decisions into action. I should note that they decided on $300-thousand after the PBP consultants told them St-Basile-le-Grand, Québec, had put $200K on the table and has a much lower population – there might have been a bit of “ego” there.

    The Steering Committee collected ideas from the community, pared it down to the top-20 to go on the ballot, and four won the voting. Three of those ideas were things council probably would have been reluctant to accept, if it had been up to them: outdoor fitness equipment next to the aquatic centre; a climbing wall at the Dieppe boys’ and girls’ club; special flooring for the ball-hockey rink at the Youth House and renovating one of the playgrounds at an elementary school.

    DIEPPE 2Other projects that didn’t make the cut – like a dog park, arts and culture ideas and some projects for seniors and the environment – are now being incorporated into the city’s future plans, anyway.

    One of the disappointments for me, though, was that there was only five percent turnout. The PBP consultants said that was one of the higher turnouts they’d seen, but I think some people were skeptical about the process and some may have confused it with a budget simulation exercise we did a few years ago. That exercise was closer to “consult” on the Spectrum; Participatory Budgeting is more like “empower”.

    Another thing the PB exercise did was let people express their views. Because Dieppe is one of the faster-growing cities in Canada, it’s had to invest in infrastructure and there’s a perception that the city is in debt. Some people said the city should take that $300-thousand and put it on the debt. This gave them a chance to be heard and showed that the debt is a concern for many.

    We’re now going through a third-party evaluation: a professor from Université de Moncton has been meeting with focus groups, and now we’ll be taking her findings and our own report to council in September to decide whether there should be a second cycle. The Mayor wants to do it again, and at least one Councillor is in favour of making this an integral part of the budgeting process.


    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    For someone working in an environment where there isn’t much knowledge or understanding around what P2 really means, it is extremely important to find and network with colleagues that work in the similar area of business.  In my case, I found resources and people with experiences in the Municipal sector with much insight and knowledge to share.  Hence, I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. This allowed me to pursue my questioning and understanding of P2 with people that understood the framework and lingo.

    It is also paramount that you help your colleagues within your own organization to get better acquainted with P2 values, principles and tools.  You may still end up being the internal P2 champion but at the very least, you may or will, hopefully, have others who support your interventions and share your vision for what authentic P2 actually looks like!!!

  • 23 Jan 2018 5:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    TREVOR JOYAL HEADSHOT-ENHANCEDNote: The interview for this profile was conducted when Trevor was still working for Manitoba Hydro.

    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

    I have been in P2 for just over 6 years. I graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2009 with full intentions of working in a lab and studying environmental toxicology – public participation was nowhere on my radar! Instead, I began working with MMM Group Ltd as an environmental planner focusing on socio-economic impact analysis. I began working on a large scale transmission line project where I was asked to assist the engagement team and was introduced to IAP2. From there, I realized I wanted to direct my career into the P2 field.

    I now work with Manitoba Hydro as an Environmental Specialist and develop and execute engagement processes for major transmission, natural gas and electrical stations across the Province. This position has allowed me to learn from our past projects and other utilities to improve Manitoba Hydro’s engagement processes.

    There are lots of areas for contention in this industry. We often work with private landowners – and as you can imagine, being told that a transmission line could go across your property can be upsetting. So we talk about how to minimize impacts and discuss mitigation measures. You’ll see changes and modifications to a project that are reflective of their feedback and how their feedback has changed the outcome. They may not always like the outcome, but we try to make sure that they understand the process and that their feedback is considered in Manitoba Hydro’s decision-making.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    I was at a Landowner Information Center in a small town in rural Manitoba. I saw a very vocal landowner who I had numerous discussions with prior come into the venue with a younger man who I had never met looking quite angry. I took them over to a corner and began talking with them. The young man, with his arms crossed, looked at me and said “This process is a waste of time. You don’t care about what I have to say. You don’t care what anybody has to say.”

    At first, I was taken aback but my response was almost out of instinct. "Then why are you here? You drove an hour and a half to tell me that talking to me is a waste of time? I have others that really want to sit and talk about this project. I do not believe that you believe what you just told me”.

    He sat there quietly and I was expecting a backlash. He looked at me and then smiled. “Straight to the point. I like that, let’s talk.” We now talk regularly and have developed a good relationship. Throughout our many subsequent discussions, concerns from him and his growing family were considered and the project modified. He recently gave me travel advice when he called just to check in. 

    That interaction taught me that everyone is different. Although my reaction was not the most apt, if I hadn’t said it, I may not have developed that relationship. Some people don’t want pleasantries or empathy; some just want a frank conversation or even just the facts. It’s about developing that relationship to understand them and to gain trust in your process and trust in you. Each member of the public is different and that is why I like to develop processes that cater to different people, their comfort level, and their interest in our projects.

    What “big wins” have you had?

    I would have to say that the relationships I have built with different stakeholders and members of the public have been my big wins. Without these relationships my processes could easily fall apart. I am constantly learning from them as to where improvements can be made and what was successful to incorporate into future planning and techniques to continue to improve our processes.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business … Get involved! When I first started in P2 I realized that I had never really participated in any project or even attended an open house. Learn and network. Follow up with university contacts, your professors, guest speakers, attend networking events, and even just join a mailing list for a project! Getting to know others, their work and seeing the impact P2 can have in projects will really drive you to further your career in the field.

  • 23 Jan 2018 5:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

    I was born and grew up in South Africa and earned my degree at Witwatersrand Polytechnic. It was a co-op degree and I worked as an intern at a PR agency where I got my first experience with P2. The experience was more covert than overt: it was the era of the spin, where you controlled all the messaging and it was more prescriptive. PR agencies had lots of money and could reach out to organizations. Social media didn’t exist then, so the PR firms could control the messaging.

    I went on a different tangent for a while, in journalism, marketing and PR. I moved to Vancouver 20 years ago and worked in various publishing and marketing related environments and then started my own business.  Five years ago, I joined SustaiNet Software Solutions to manage their online engagement product - EngagementHQ. Howard Adam, the CEO of SustaiNet had just become the Canadian distributor for this community and stakeholder engagement platform built to do consultation online. So this brought me full circle to what I found I was really passionate about: communication practice and public engagement.

    EngagementHQ gave me an opportunity to see more of the public engaged in the issues that affected their lives. In fact, I couldn’t believe how true to my original communications principles this process is – my belief that people should have a voice no matter who they are. EngagementHQ is built strategically to address online consultation and to be an enhancement to all the tools in the toolbox of community engagement. It helps reach citizen who really are too busy to attend meetings and ensures these busy people also have a voice. It creates an honest and transparent process and ensures quality of information. That’s crucial in the P2 process on all sides.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    I am constantly energized at what fine personalities you’ll find in each community or organization. I love the openness of people working in P2. PR was all about spin and this is no longer true – no controlling of the message. Certainly, online engagement was perceived to be harder and riskier. It sometimes takes a mind shift to dispel that perception.

    I think another big “AHA” moment for me was seeing how these organizations were using online tools successfully. Organizations were now able to provide an additional way for people to have a voice. You (companies and governments) have to embrace that: if you don’t, you’re dead in the water.

    The online world has moved at Mach speed. I‘ve seen a shift in as little as 4 years from where people said “we don’t have a website” and “our organization won’t allow social media,” to where they’re now embracing online engagement tools. Online engagement is about making people comfortable, making it easy and feeling safe about getting involved. In Mississauga for example, there was a budget process which included online participatory budgeting and they had 2,000 submissions. That level of participation was not achieved through face-to-face meetings. Online helped people feel they could contribute and make a difference at time and place that worked for them and the city could reach even more citizens.

    What “big wins” in P2 have you witnessed?

    I’ve seen more and more cities enthusiastically include online engagement in their community engagement process and reach a greater proportion of their citizens.  The Regional Municipality of Halifax has very much embraced online engagement as part of their overall community input. Their engagement strategy defines how they consistently engage their citizens based on IAP2 Core Values and principles.

    I see places like St John’s NL and the Alberta Energy Regulator; I see it in the city of Richmond (BC) and Port Metro Vancouver: all building processes successfully around citizen engagement that not only embraces online engagement but also embraces how to use social media successfully and reach out to an even greater proportion of their citizens.

    The City of Mississauga was very successful with their project for Port Credit. They won an award for their online engagement micro-site and process which was used strategically alongside their in person events. They took all the right steps to make sure everyone had a voice.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    I think it’s an exciting field: it offers so many opportunities to work in different divisions of organizations and to be very connected with the voice of society. It has a long way to go in many ways, but organizations like IAP2 have “awakened the beast”. For a young person interested in communications and connecting with people it is a very real way to participate in issues that affect citizens lives and make it possible for them to have a voice.

  • 23 Jan 2018 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked? – I’m a communications practitioner – that’s been my occupation for 15 years ... before that I was a print journalist with the Guelph Mercury and some other community papers in southern Ontario. I’m accredited in PR and I’m about to go after my Certification with IAP2.

    What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

    It came through my work in PR. I was at a Public Relations conference in Calgary and during a community relations session, one of the presenters showed the IAP2 Spectrum. That was the first time I realized that there were all sorts of ways to engage with people and that there was a specific formula and path. I was working in Brampton at the time, and when I got back, I shared the Spectrum with everybody I knew. In 2007, I made the move to Burlington and encouraged everyone here to get involved with IAP2.

    There was also an external group in Burlington that was promoting engagement, and in 2010 they came forward to ask for more engagement in the community. With them, we worked out the Community Engagement Charter. We at the City had already begun training people in P2 – staff and residents – and members of council and senior management took P2 for Leaders. So in 2012, we finalized the Community Engagement Charter.

    What kind of staff do you use for P2 in Burlington?

    Most of the Communications team that I lead has been trained in P2, and that includes the designers. Traditionally, the creative staff are not asked to consider it, but we encourage them to think about how to engage people when they’re designing something. When we launched our new website, it was the two web designers leading the team who came up with the best ideas for how to engage people via the website. All in all, we’ve developed a culture of engagement here. I recommend including P2 as part of communications and also that staff share success stories internally, so people are inspired to stay engaged.

    Have you had any “Golden Learning Moments” – or big wins?

    There’s one that was both. Part of my job has been to rescue projects in trouble. There have been a few projects that were on a bad path and we’ve managed to bring them back using engagement.BRONTE CREEK PARK 1 

    One in particular was a decision to build a fence between a pathway and Bronte Creek provincial park (east end of Burlington). There’s a residential area nearby and people love to walk along the path and look into this beautiful park, see the deer and so forth.

    It was a safety issue. The path was right beside a steep embankment, and there was a danger of people falling – in fact, some people had: they weren’t hurt badly, but the Fire Department – which has to rescue the people who fall – raised concerns.

    But some people were concerned that the fence would block the view of the park, and then an influential person in the community shot a video showing what he felt was being lost and asking how the City could do this without consulting.

    This fellow called himself “Mr Burlington”, because he wanted to experience as many Burlington events as possible in one year. The video got a lot of hits and we realized we had to hold a greater level of discussion than we thought.

    So we met as a team with the ward Councillor, the staff involved in the fence project and the department involved. The question was, People don’t feel engaged: where can we share power here?

    I like asking that question, because then we can determine where we land on the Spectrum. We can say specifically what parts of a proposal are “fixed” and what parts are flexible.

    People need to know that, if they’re going to trust the engagement process: we can’t say we’ll involve them in a decision and then not. People want you to be genuine they want you to say “Here’s what we can do – and here’s what we can let you be a part of.”

    So we needed a fence for safety reasons – but how do we get that across to the people? I suggested that we take residents for a walk-and-talk along the trail in the spring, when the weather was mild enough. We announced it through the media, then met neighbours and park users in the park and walked them along the trail to show why staff felt it was dangerous.

    bronte creek park 4 - rejected option About 60 to 70 people came out and they were absolutely thrilled. They liked meeting the Councillor and the Mayor and meeting staff and asking questions. We handed out hot chocolate, met together and walked together along the trail.

    We also came up with four different types of fences, and set them up along the trail so people could see and select what kind of fence they preferred. We also put the designs on the website so people could vote online. We made sure it was only Burlington residents who could vote.bronte creek park 3 - chosen option

    And in the end, it was the community that picked the fence. The impact of having a plan and engaging people as much as we could and maintain safety was amazing: the next story in the media was about how we were engaging people.

    How hard was it to sell Council and staff on engaging people?

    Council was already supportive of the engagement charter. Many members of the Council that was elected in 2010 were already engaging in their wards, and they were hungry for staff to do more.

    So after Council approved the engagement charter, we brought it to staff and developed the Charter Action Plan. We used internal P2 to engage the staff on engagement, using surveys, dot-mocracy and so forth to find out what staff would support and what they would not support.

    We put together a toolkit for staff, which we’re still fine-tuning, and provided P2 training for new staff in roles where they would need to understand engagement.

    Recently, we took the engagement charter and had the ChAT – Charter Action Team – pare it down to its essence, defining the role of the City and the role of the residents, and put it on a plaque. We set up seven plaques – one in each ward and one at City Hall – and eventually, we’ll have forty plaques around the city.

    The idea was to have Council members show their commitment to engagement by unveiling those plaques. To give you an idea of how the media view public engagement, the plaque unveiling – which generally doesn’t get much media coverage – was a story in both the Hamilton Spectator and the Burlington Post.

    We’re always asking who do we need to involve ... who do we need to inform ... who do we need to engage?

    What do you see for the future of engagement?

    I see two trends. For a time, I taught writing for public relations at McMaster University, and if you look at PR today, I’d say it’s not the same practice that it was when I first started. Today, it’s all about engagement. Social media has enabled better two-way conversations: you can listen and respond to an issue and are able to reach perhaps hundreds of thousands of people with a single Tweet – and that’s exciting.

    The other trend is that an area that’s going to get a lot of traction from engagement is planning and development. The ones who are successful are the ones who engage with communities.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    Those who have previous experience doing something else bring so much more to the table when they go into the P2 field. If you go to college or university, take one of those subjects and then go straight into it, you’ll have a long learning curve. Those who have done something else, have knowledge of something practical, something operational, world knowledge, will have the advantage. They’ll know something about people and how they think.

  • 21 Jan 2018 11:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    What turned you on to P2 in the first place?

    I like the people part of anything … I love connecting with them, liaising with them, and helping them to understand what our client is doing. I learned about public engagement from Terry Koch, one of the founding members of the Wild Rose Chapter. He invited me to come along and learn about it and I joined Stantec to do just that. Stantec wanted to grow that part of the business and I did it for 5 years in Calgary and got established there, working in BC and the Yukon as well, before the opportunity came up to move to the Island.

    I’ve learned that engagement and consultation issues are woven into many projects at Stantec. I’m constantly amazed at every project and the way that P2 plays an important part in projects and organizations, whether they’re our own clients or within the company itself. For instance, we currently have over 30 Stantec people who meet by phone once a month to talk about engagement. Some are architects, some are planners, some are pure engagement specialists like myself. Many people work on P2 within Stantec and don’t know it. So specialists like me, we sell ourselves as ‘pure’ engagement specialists so that we can handle that part of it and let the architects and planners do their thing and ‘wear’ only one hat.

    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked?

    I’ve been working in P2 for just over 9 years, primarily with Stantec: I spent the first five of those years in Calgary, and then they transferred me out to Vancouver Island. That was a homecoming for me: I was born and raised in Duncan. Before going to Stantec, I was with the Urban Development Institute – Calgary doing a form of engagement through communications and coordination roles.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    It continues to interest me how emotion and outrage will come along in our projects, and when we openly and transparently listen to someone, that goes a long way to defuse it. When we explain what our projects are about, just being able to close that communication loop with them brings so much more value to what we do. We can’t always make everybody happy, but it goes a long way when we listen and can provide them with the “why” of our projects or our methods. When you’ve done it well, you get a lot of supporters and champions of the project – even if they weren’t, to begin with.

    What “big wins” have you had?

    We had an instance in southern Alberta when we were doing a long series of engagements for the Government of Alberta. We had a stakeholder session earlier in the day and the public meeting was coming up. But we learned that one of the local user groups had put out a full-page ad in the newspaper that looked like one of our ads but was designed to get people out to oppose the project. It used a slogan that we would never have used, but got people’s attention with a message that with this project, we were going to shut down the back-country, which we weren’t.

    So we made sure we had enough facilitators for the roundtables so we could have the conversations and iron things out. A lot of people came out, and at the end, many were quite upset that they were brought out under false pretenses.

    The biggest tool, I find, is the ability to listen and communicate with one another. You want to make sure you have a diverse group of people – a cross-mix of stakeholders and others from different backgrounds … it helps to get people out of their particular box and looking at the situation in a different light.

    For me, I would love to encourage people to become as involved as their lives allow them to be with the IAP2 organizations in your back yard. We all have so much to learn from each other, whether you’ve just started or been in the business for 20 years.

    For me, I love being on the IAP2 BC board, taking an interest and generating interest on Vancouver Island. When we have an event, whether it’s a small crowd or not; the networking and learning from each other is very valuable.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    Ensure that you really do stick to the IAP2 Core Values and Spectrum. They’re the tried-tested tools to use and if you ensure that your projects have that built in, you’ll have great success.

    You have to bring that to the forefront … often, the economics of the project or other considerations, the engagement part is pushed to the side … but if you don’t engage right, you spend a lot more time and money trying to fix it.

    I’m a big advocate of taking the training. Some of it may be pretty basic, but the Foundations training brings it all together in one spot and helps one understand the context.

    My other passion is to be out in the community … and engagement goes further than in just your job. When you’re able to go out and support and do things in the community, you start to see people in different areas and take the things that you believe in in engagement and see how much further it goes than in just your job.

    I manage a team as well, as part of the hat I wear at Stantec, and those principles resonate in all aspects of life. If we use our P2 principles, if we ask people how they want to be engaged and are truly transparent we get a much happier office and work life.

  • 21 Jan 2018 11:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked? I started doing P2 in the 1980s when I was working with the Alberta Attorney-General’s office in communications and community relations. I was engaging stakeholders on a new piece of legislation for the Maintenance Enforcement Program. This involved talking to family lawyers, social workers, fathers who were paying – or not paying – child support; it was a fascinating process.

    In the mid-90s, I started working in the energy industry.  There was a huge need for oil and gas companies to engage landowners and community members before starting any new development, and I found myself gradually drawn more and more into that area. When I went out on my own in 1999, that became the main focus of my work.

    Since then, I’ve worked on a wide range of projects, primarily in the resource development area.

    What “big wins” have you had?

    Two of my best projects were in the oil and gas industry. One was with Alberta’s energy regulator on a new policy. Now, regulators and industry don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to policy so we weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. But this time, we did it differently than before – talking to stakeholders before drafting the policy. It was a bit of a push to get the client to agree to the “involve” level on the spectrum, but as the project progressed, we moved closer to the “collaborate” level.

    One of the things I like to do, when we come to the logical end of a process is to have a celebration and bring the stakeholders together to look at how far we’ve come and what we’ve managed to accomplish together. At the luncheon, one of the main people from the industry association stood up and said this had been the “gold standard’ for industry-regulator collaboration. I felt that we pushed the boundaries a little bit and created a win-win situation.

    I was also the creator and facilitator of one of the first multi-stakeholder groups looking at area development in oil and gas industry. Prior to this time, companies had worked independently and consulted in a piecemeal manner. What I was hearing from both the regulator and the community was it would be great to sit down and talk about all the development in the community at the same time. This was the first time we brought everyone together in one group and I had to get all the companies at the same table. These were all competitors, and it wasn’t normal to have the competitors sitting down together with the community. It worked out well from the engagement perspective, but unfortunately for the companies involved, the gas reservoir didn’t turn out to be as big as they had hoped for – but from the standpoint of community relations and the regulator, it was a big win for the companies.

    Have you had a “Golden Learning Moment”?

    There’s been a whole series of such moments that, tied together, keep reinforcing the same point: that it’s so important to ask the right questions. The question is key to a successful process. If we consult on an option or a solution rather than a problem or an opportunity, we get side-tracked: so if we just step back and re-phrase the question we’re consulting on, we find success. If you don’t ask the right questions, you’re not going to get the process you need. Ask the right questions – and don’t make assumptions.

    I have one sort of piece of philosophy that’s stuck with me all these years: that it’s easier to solve the problem at the kitchen table than at the boardroom table. So if I’m working with community members, sitting down with them in their own space, rather than having it end up in a board room – or worse still, in a court room, it’s a much better process – talk to them where they live.

    I’m also extremely passionate about the value of advisory groups. My colleagues laugh at me sometimes because anytime someone says “advisory group” my eyes light up: but that’s because I’ve had such great success with advisory groups.

    On the wall in my office, I have that quote from Margaret Mead:

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world – indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” That’s been a guiding mantra for me.

    Have you seen that happening in your work?

    Sure. I look at some of the history in Alberta in the oil and gas industry. When I was working at the oil and gas industry in the 90s, people were getting shot and things were getting blown up – tensions between industry and community were pretty severe. Things were heated and about to explode. So between some really leading-edge companies, the industry association and the regulator, we started to form grassroots multi-stakeholder advisory groups called “synergy groups”. They got together to talk about the problems and how to solve those problems together. I’d sit with community members who could hardly bear to sit across the table from industry people and a year later, the whole dynamic of the group had changed.

    There was one case: one of the front-line guys who’d been taking the heat for all the ills of the industry: I was asking everyone, what do you want to get out of these meetings?

    He said, “I just want to get my phone to stop ringing. I get all these phone calls from people who are upset with my company or what they think is my company … and I just want that to stop.”

    A year later, we were meeting and I asked him, “Is your phone still ringing?” He said, “Yes – but they’re good calls!”

    I was just at the Synergy Alberta Conference (annually in November), where members have been getting together for over a decade, talking about how to make things better between industry and community. It’s almost like going to a family reunion – or an IAP2 Conference! All these people that you’ve worked with over the years and they weren’t exactly happy at the beginning, but now they feel that they have a voice and they’re being heard. They’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid and they’re working together. In fact, a lot of them have become involved with IAP2 because of these connections.

    How important is this sort of atmosphere, given the current state of Alberta’s economy?

    It’s just as important now as it has ever been. If companies walk away and leave the stakeholders behind, they’ll lose all the goodwill they’ve built up. Alberta has seen so many cycles of good times and bad, the industry is going to come back and there’ll be a need to stay in touch with the communities. There’s a real concern that companies will default and not continue operating wells. One of my clients is the Orphan Well Association. If there’s no one financially able to take care of environmental liabilities around a well that’s shut down, then the Energy Regulator can assign the well to the OWA. Sadly, the list of “orphaned” wells is getting longer and there are a number of companies struggling to keep things going.

    So we’re collaborating on the issues connected with the tough times: what do you do when companies can’t meet the lease payments; or municipalities need to sort through problems? The need to work together is still there – there are just different things we’re collaborating on.

    Have you seen attitudes change towards P2?

    There’s a huge increase in the number and type of organizations that now understand it’s something they need to do. But there’s a real need for education on how to do it properly, so that people “get” that p2 is not something that’s a check-box but it has to be authentic and meaningful. I’m seeing a lot of interest in the public sector on what it means for them … I’m seeing a lot of interest from municipal and provincial governments to make sure their staff understand what meaningful engagement means.

    If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business …

    This is really important work and can be extremely rewarding. IAP2 is a great organization to help new practitioners understand the importance of the work.

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