The Use of Electronic Participation Tools in Urban Planning Projects in Toronto, Ontario
The public’s involvement in urban planning projects has been a contested and evolving topic. In this paper, I address how planners have changed their approach to participation in planning and how they are incorporating electronic participation tools into that process. I have adapted the assessment framework by Tambouris, Liotas and Tarabanis (2007) for the use of electronic participation tools in public policy consultations to urban planning projects. I evaluated eighteen active urban planning projects in Toronto, Ontario, comparing how these projects are using electronic participation tools to engage the community. I found that electronic participation tools are, for the most part, being used to inform members of the community rather than for drawing feedback and that these tools are not being used to create opportunities for the community to make substantial changes to the projects. Members of the community who are using the electronic participation tools are self-selected participants and therefore tend to be more likely to engage in planning processes generally. The main take away from my research is that urban planning projects in Toronto are integrating electronic participation tools into their participation strategy, but the electronic participation tools are not being used strategically to remedy current barriers and gaps to participation.