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Official plan process: London planner explains how to open it up in Peterborough

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In Adjala-Tosorontio
Feb 13th, 2016
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Rethinking citizen engagement in Peterborough will ‘knock your socks off’

Peterborough This Week February 3 2016

One of Canada’s leading voices for citizen engagement and new approaches to planning is coming to Peterborough on Feb. 10, as guest speaker and “provocateur” at two events hosted by local community-building initiative Peterborough Dialogues.

Sean Galloway, a senior planner for the City of London, co-led the largest and most successful citizen engagement process in Canadian municipal history — ReThink London. It led to (arguably) Canada’s most innovative and visionary official plan, The London Plan, says Ben Wolfe, co-founder of the Peterborough Dialogues.

Mr. Galloway, London’s manager of urban  design and GIS, will bring his unique real-world experiences to a participatory  workshop, “ReThinking Citizen Engagement in Peterborough,” from 1 to 4:30 p.m.. He will then give a 7 to 9 p.m. presentation at Seeds of Change (at George Street United Church).

“What London has done will shift what you believe is possible in Peterborough,” says Mr. Wolfe, a member of the organizing team for the visit. “Parts of it will knock  your socks off.”

London’s planning team refused to be satisfied with the same old-style meetings and processes that attract the same handful of professional citizens, Mr. Galloway says. Instead, they saw the rewrite of London’s plan as what it is — a once-in-a-generation community conversation about shared vision that would reshape the future of their city.

In addition to the usual meetings, they held nearly 100 others, communicating in common language and making unprecedented use of new participatory technology and online and social media.

More than 17,000 citizens engaged in deep face-to-face processes over more than a year of consultation. Their input gave clear direction to the city, and is full of startling insights.

The finished London Plan, expected to be given final approval shortly, is a visual treat, at home on a coffee table, with photos on every page, readable by average citizens, with its biggest ideas up front.

Galloway’s visit is an invitation to citizens and professionals alike to rethink what public engagement — and an official plan — can do, and be Wolfe says.

“We hope these events are timely as we enter a key part of our own planning cycle,” he adds.

Seats at the afternoon workshop are limited. To register, visit http://axiomnews.eventbrite.ca. ($40 + ticket fee/HST). You can also pre-register at that URL for the evening presentation and discussion, or come and contribute at the door. ($10 or pay what you can)

Peterborough Dialogues is a pioneering initiative in community-building, learning, media-making and change, created by Axiom News.

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