2021 Award "Best Practice in Citizen Participation"
15th Edition 2021
Supports are subject to the following rules:
- You can support up to 5 proposals.
Adaptation of the public consultation mechanisms to the conditions of the COVID-19 (Montreal)
The Office de consultation publique de Montréal is an independent organization created under the Charter of the City of Montréal. It defines itself as a neutral third party that allows citizens to be heard on major urban planning issues, but also on any other issue for which it is mandated.
The Office's mandate is to promote and facilitate the broadest possible participation of citizens and groups in the city of Montréal. It also has a mandate to develop and promote best practices in the field of public consultations.
The pandemic situation that broke out in March 2020 posed a huge challenge in terms of citizen participation. Indeed, how to involve citizens if meetings, conferences and public activities are prohibited. There was still the option of digital consultations.
Fortunately, the OCPM already had extensive experience in this area, but always as a complement to face-to-face activities. This time, the situation was quite different. Everything had to be done virtually without the possibility of real physical participation. One of the leitmotifs of the OCPM is participation without exclusion. It soon became apparent that this objective of participation for all could be called into question for sections of the population with limited access to and less ability to use digital tools.
To address this issue, the Office conducted a broad survey of all stakeholders in public consultations, including those who participate only in person, contributing orally to the debate and expressing opinions. The result was the design of a consultation procedure that, while largely virtual, could allow everyone to ask questions and express an opinion by mail or through a simple live phone or voice mail. At the same time, the Office also gave citizens and participants more time and flexibility by separating the presentation of the project submitted for consultation. Our traditional method meant that citizens could ask clarifying questions in the room immediately after the presentation of a project. The adapted method gives citizens a two-week window to prepare questions, to listen to the presentation again or to read the content on the website or in transcripts provided by post. This is something we intend to keep for the future.
In sum, our unique situation will have allowed us not to exclude more marginal populations from our consultations and to eventually improve our processes.
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