The City of Toronto retained Dillon to design and execute a comprehensive public and stakeholder consultation program in support of the City’s Five-Year Official Plan Review of its Draft Built Form and Public Realm Policies.
The primary focus of this consultation project was to engage residents, communities, organizations, and other stakeholders from across the city on specific draft policies that the City’s Planning Division is preparing as part of the Five-Year Official Plan Review. For this assignment, our Dillon team had to find ways to engage people in conversations about policies which can be very technical and challenging to understand. To do this, we developed creative options for online engagement and we designed stakeholder discussion workshops to facilitate meaningful conversations. Most of the engagement focused on exploring the intention of different policies so that people felt free to share their thoughts on what they would like the policies to achieve. Our team worked with the City to determine if and where those could be met. The engagement program included five public meetings (one in each district of Toronto), seven stakeholder meetings/workshops, and an online city-wide photo call.
An official plan is complex and policy can be difficult for the general public to understand. To overcome these challenges, our team developed graphics and used highly visual materials to help convey policy and the key messages of the project, in a way that was easily understood by all.
Public awareness of urban design was also an important aspect of this project, and it was a challenge for the City to raise awareness about how the policies in the Official Plan translate on the ground and affect the buildings and public spaces that we interact with every day. In order to achieve this, Dillon launched a public photo call asking people on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share photos of their favourite public spaces and buildings in Toronto to celebrate good urban design in the city with the hashtag #UrbanDesignMatters. We received over 750 photos from residents and visitors to Toronto. The interest and quality of submissions demonstrated the importance of public realm and built form throughout the city, and made people aware of the project. The photo submissions also provided the City Project Team Staff with visual examples of what people want the policies to be able to achieve. The photos received through #UrbanDesignMatters were displayed in an interactive exhibit at the public meetings. Attendees of the meetings explored the photos and were able to discuss them with City staff in relation to how policies could support more of these spaces, places and buildings.
Dillon’s engagement plan for this project resulted in an engagement summary that compiled the feedback and themes from each public and stakeholder meeting, which was used by the City to update and refine their Official Plan built form and public realm policies. These changes were ultimately adopted by City Council.