Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘public consultation

How to influence people

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but not win friends. Translink is currently running a survey on line as part of its “Translink listens” exercise. But it would seem it only listens these days when you agree with what is happening

Sample questions:
From the list below, please choose the three words that you feel should best describe Canada’s Pacific Gateway.
Which of the following statements do you agree with the most?
Please pick one only.
Canada’s Pacific Gateway increases mobility in our region, allowing people and goods to move more freely.
Canada’s Pacific Gateway improves our quality of life, reducing congestion and making trips safer.
Canada’s Pacific Gateway is important to our region’s economy and future prosperity.
Canada’s Pacific Gateway supports employment throughout our region, delivering opportunity.

Already email is flying and list serves grumbling. These questions are NOT open ended – they are multiple choice – but you can only choose things which support the Gateway. You are not allowed the opportunity to be critical of the program in any way.

When I worked for Translink – and its predecessor – the folks in the market research section were very proud of their reputation, and took great care to ensure that all the surveys they mounted – or commissioned from external consultants – were above reproach. I can only assume that the people involved have changed in the 5 years since I left. Or, since SoCoBriTCA is now in nearly all respects under the aegis of the Minister of Transportation, that standards have changed.

Quite disgraceful really. And it will colour my views of all subsequent research that Translink produces unless there is some public declaration that there has been a regrettable error, the survey is closed and a more balanced one replaces it pronto.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Gateway

Tagged with , ,

Gateway Consultation Process

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There are currently open houses being held around the region as part of the Environmental Assessment process. There has been some discussion on the lrc-general list as to whether it is worthwhile participating

…from my point of view (and I have a Ph. D. in Community & Regional Planning and have taught Planning, Development and Policy for three years at SFU’s Urban Studies Masters Program, currently teaching Urban Sustainable Development there), the public consultation process of the MoT has been nothing but a sham. There is a classic “ladder of citizen participation” designed by Sherry Arnstein to evaluate degrees of citizen participation in public processes that I and many instructors of planning use to illustrate democratic public process. On this ladder Kevin Falcon’s MoT’s Process falls on the bottom step of the ladder (which Arnstein calls manipulation and non-participation). In the ministry’s own words, “from letters, petitions or other submissions that only state a position for or against a given project cannot generally be considered”. Thus, we as citizens have no real participation in making a decision NOT to approve this Gateway Project, but merely to comment on improving or adding bike lanes or slightly shifting on or off ramps, etc. As I said, what a sham! However, I do think people should go to the open houses and tell them what a sham this process is, and what a shame for democracy. So, I am going to do that myself at the Vancouver Open House on Tuesday, 5-9 PM at the Italian Cultural Centre.

Mike Carr

I cannot say I agree with Mike that going to these affairs does any good. It is not about should the project go ahead as Falcon has said that it is a “done deal”. That deal excluded anyone who might have a legitimate interest in it except those who stood to profit from it. The Deltaport expansion is not part of the process either, even though that is said to be one of the drivers for both Port Mann 2 and the South Fraser Perimeter Road. In fact, it is clear now that part of the SFPR is to be funded by the PM2 tolls! Not only that but the Liberals out manoeuvred the opposition by tying the port expansion into the Tsawassen Treaty proposal. Now no-one could argue that the TFN need a treaty – after all the first stage of the port expansion destroyed their traditional way of life with no compensation. And we have not had much progress in the treaty process to date, so understandably Carol James did not want the NDP to oppose it. Even though the process has been highly suspect to say the least.

When the consultation process is so clearly flawed, we should not participate in it, because that lends the thing credibility that it does not deserve. I will not take part, but I will be part of the protests next weekend. And I hope you will be too. Because when they patronize and marginalize us – and set up bogus “astroturf” groups to appear to speak for the proposal and run ludicrously obvious biased “surveys” – we have no other course of action than to turn to protest. Which is, in human history, the only way that progressive change has ever been brought about. Resistance stopped the freeway through Chinatown and downtown. It will stop this one too.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 22, 2007 at 5:52 pm