Regional planning is a long, expensive, political process that takes considerable time and commitment to complete, so it’s critical that those efforts result in a plan that can be approved. A comparison of methods used in the 2006 Draft Dehcho Plan (not approved), and the approved Sahtu Plan (2013) demonstrates the benefits of a collaborative approach. This talk will explore a new planning approach based on facilitated workshops.
The traditional planning approach used in the Northwest Territories is for the planning body to solicit input from each stakeholder group individually, and decide how best to reconcile those diverse interests. The result often lacks buy-in from participants because they didn’t create it. This was the case in the Dehcho Plan, and interim stages of the Sahtu Plan. It wasn’t until we initiated multi-stakeholder technical workshops towards the end of the Sahtu planning process that solutions came together that all parties could support, because they created the solutions. The role of the planner changed from “expert” – the one creating the solutions – to facilitator – helping others create the solutions.
What would happen if we ran an entire planning process as a series of collaborative workshops, each one designed to accomplish a step in the planning process (e.g. vision and objectives, issue scoping, information gathering and review, options, draft, final) or resolve a specific planning issue? A facilitated planning approach will be explored, including the strengths and weaknesses of this approach, opportunities and potential challenges, such as how to manage broader participation and engagement.