What if public consultation was always meaningful? Always real? And always inspired our confidence in the abilities of communities and governments to work together to ensure our city is a reflection of what we value?
Using both pools in schools and the Port Lands as examples (two valuable public assets in Toronto!), this talk explores what happened when communities inserted themselves into the public consultation process and, working with the school board and the City respectively, influenced results that were dramatically different than the original path proposed.
Discussion will follow – focusing on what participants think is critical to keeping public consultation useful and real.
Nicole Swerhun helps connect decision makers to the constituencies they serve. Fourteen years ago she founded Swerhun Inc., a firm that is dedicated to making complex, often controversial and high profile, multi-stakeholder projects constructive and manageable.
Nicole has led the design and delivery of over 250 public and stakeholder participation projects, most focusing on tough public policy issues like growth management, energy infrastructure, justice system reform, affordable housing, transportation and transit infrastructure, and the sustainable management of public assets in the face of significant resource constraints.
Nicole’s projects have focused locally and abroad, in post-war Bosnia, post-Katrina New Orleans, and in cities across Canada and the US. With rare exception, it is possible to trace exactly how Nicole’s work in each project helped build trust, address issues, and ultimately supported the creation of a defensible path forward based on the common ground created among multiple actors.
Nicole authored a handbook Discuss. Decide. Do. The value of engagement as a decision support tool. She is a Senior Associate of the Canadian Urban Institute and designed and teaches a senior level course in Cities Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough in the Department of Human Geography.
Nicole (and the entire Swerhun team) works exclusively for the public and non-profit sectors.