Effective Public Consultation costs money, but poor consultation costs much more
Public Consultation on important projects may look a bit different during COVID-19. Uncertainty only provides a higher precedent for fostering inclusivity within community-based initiatives. If anything municipalities are finding themselves under increased pressure to promote an open dialogue.
Public Consultation is a focused process used to communicate project-related information out to residents and methodically gather specific feedback. Allowing residents the opportunity to provide feedback acknowledges their desire to have a say in decisions that may affect their lives. When affected parties are able to contribute it is much more likely that impactful projects will be well received.
One example of Public Consultation Enhancements includes the use of a Community Engagement Research Panel. The first step is to geo-target residents who are within an upcoming project's catchment area. We can then send invitations to complete 'blank sheet of paper' surveys to gather first thoughts (and identify concerns). The end goal is to engage interested residents through the use of a project update email list/webpage and invite them to related Open Houses.
This modified approach provides planners early glimpses of resident thoughts and creates awareness/interest with the neighbourhood even before any formal notice is delivered by the municipality. One small shift provides huge gains.