A participatory approach for integrated community planning: Stakeholder-driven community systems models and development scenarios

Robert Newell
Ian M. Picketts
Sep 2018
Prairie Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers (PCAG) 2018 Annual Meeting

Sustainable community development requires integrated approaches to planning that recognize how local policy and land use can affect interconnected aspects of human wellbeing and the environment. Systems modelling exercises can support integrated planning because they can elucidate relationships and outcomes of social and physical infrastructure decisions. However, modelling community systems presents the significant challenge of deciding what to include in the model, since including all aspects of a community and its local environment is unfeasible. This challenge can be addressed through participatory approaches to model development. Through engaging local government and diverse stakeholders, models can be designed to capture a comprehensive range of key interests, concerns and values, thereby increasing their relevance to the community and usefulness in local planning efforts. This study explores such a participatory approach. The research involved assembling a focus group representing diverse sectors/interests in Squamish, BC, to discuss local issues and possible futures for the community. Focus group data were analyzed using NVivo, resulting in a series of considerations that informed the development a systems model. In turn, the model can be used to support integrated planning by serving as tool for guiding investigations into possible outcomes associated with developing the community in different ways.