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Public Consultation

Needs of the Property Development Industry Proponents for Consultation


Those in the property development industry desire much out of the public consultation process for one main reason: to see a proposed project through to completion. Because of this overarching need, industry proponents have articulated specific requests to consider as they are assigned, plan, and execute consultation efforts. In no particular order, these needs include: blueprint

1. Meeting Development Permit Requirements

Industry proponents need to follow the development permit process. This means meeting the necessary public consultation requirements necessary as outlined in the Local Government Act and/or community charters for official community plan amendments concerning rezoning applications.

2. Gathering Data That Guides: Evidence Based Decision Making

Qualitative and quantitative data is necessary for industry proponents given that evidence-based decision making is consistently desired. However, gathering concise, clear, and verified data is a challenge, particularly authenticating that data to a geographic location. The need for location‐based consultation verification and technology adds to proponents’ ability to imagine and appreciate the value of information enhanced by specified location.

To know where responses are coming from is becoming increasingly required. Further, data grounded with analytics and demographics is highly valued, as proponents would like to know that consultation respondents have viewed and processed information before they have responded so that feedback is ideally educated and informed.

3. Strategic Targeting Of and Notification To Community Residents

The ability to target specific groups for consultation and to notify them of project information is a key need for industry proponents. They would like to reach a silent majority that are either busy or unable to attend open houses as well as to outreach to those who want to participate but turned off by how public process is currently structured. Some view this as a legislated obligation, while others an ethical requirement. Even though municipalities take responsibility of the majority of public notification, they would also like to independently notify residents, particularly for consultation meeting times, deadlines, and to ask for feedback.

4. Having Cost‐Effective Project Management & Consultation

In responding to RFPs and in efforts to remain competitive in their field, cost‐effectiveness is highly valued in the property development industry. Proponents must justify spending in their public consultation plans, particularly when collaborating on public infrastructure projects. That being said, some proponents are also willing to spend on “marketing initiatives” to promote and sell their developments to their targeted markets and have large budgets for public consultation.

5. Having a Sense of Consultation Control

While the depth and length of consultation always varies, the need to have controlled consultation is valuable for industry proponents. Whether it is the design, content, notification, or information sharing, industry proponents desire control of the consultation process. This includes the need to correct wrong information to residents, to control the identity and branding of their company, as well as to know the identity of those they are consulting with.

6. Meeting Project Deadlines

On one hand, consultations can be time sensitive and proponents work hard under pressure to meet deadlines, sometimes at the expense of insufficient public consultation. On the other hand, the development permit process can also be lengthy and projects must go through multiple design iterations and public consultation phases to be approved. Finding the appropriate and sufficient amount of consultation is needed.

7. Negotiating and Practicing Balanced Consultation

Industry proponents struggle to have balanced consultation on many levels: consultation must be inclusive and but often also specific and targeted; it must be timely to meet deadlines but provide enough time for sufficient feedback; it must be transparent but also foster and provide the public’s desire for anonymity and privacy. This balancing act can make public consultation a complex process for industry proponents.

8. Knowing Who They Consult With

Proponents value non‐anonymity. They would like to know demographics and location of people they consult with to add assurance that they are consulting with people directly affected by their proposed development.

9. Public Understanding

Industry proponents often referenced frustration with the public’s perception of their power, what is in their jurisdiction, what is in the jurisdiction of the municipality, or when developer consultation is handed over to the municipality after approval of a re‐zoning application. Whether the consultation is a “developer” or “city” issue is sometimes confusing. During public consultation, industry proponents desire to better inform the public of their role in the consultation and the extent to which consultation can or will be decided by council.
This post is the third of a series of posts on online public consultation in the property development industry.  The series was inspired by a report by Maureen Mendoza as part of the MITACS Research Accelerate Internship Program and as part of course requirements with the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia. You can read and download the entire report here.


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