IAP2, City of Vancouver, spectrum of public participation, engagement, and sincerity

How is the City of Vancouver performing when it comes to citizen engagement, consultation, and public participation? What is its official position? The Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force initial output will be presented to Regular Council tomorrow on May 28, 2013. In the spirit of promoting sincere discussion, we wanted to put this information out in advance, for the record. For a few years we have heard some City Councillors talk about “engagement” and “public participation.” On October 27, 2012, we noticed some Twitter chatter about Vancouver having adopted the International Association for Public Participation’s “IAP2 spectrum of public participation,” and asked a City Councillor for more information. That led to to a dead end (see Twitter record below). In April we wrote to Corporate Communications asking for clarification of the City’s stance on all of this. The response? Silence.  We provide this information here because we believe that MANY people in Vancouver sincerely want a government that serves its people well. But everyone needs to ask if the actions of City Hall are sincere. Let’s keep our eyes open and see how our elected officials and public servants are really doing. Do actions match words? If yes, great. If not, they need your frank feedback, from inside and outside the “system.”

———- Forwarded message ———-

[Reminder of this message sent May 24. No acknowledgement received yet as of May 30, 2013.]

From: CityHallWatch 
Date: Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 4:49 PM
Subject: City of Vancouver endorsement or application of IAP2 standards, principles
To: media@vancouver.ca

Dear Corporate Communications,

Could you please indicate the CoV stance on IAP2? How do you characterize it? Applying, respecting, endorsing, following, or adhering? Or none of the above? A member of IAP2?

We have heard that the City of Vancouver recognizes IAP2 (International Association for Public Participation). In public meetings, Councillor Andrea Reimer has referred to the “spectrum of public participation.” The Greenest City Action Plan refers to the “spectrum.” In a Twitter interaction a while back, she indicated we should contact the “Director of Engagement,” but such a position does not exist, we believe.

We note that the Greenest City Action Plan mentions IAP2 in a footnote, but other than that found no reference to IAP2 on the City website.

We’d appreciate it if you could clarify the CoV stance on or relationship to IAP2.


Excerpt of GCAP
…. The strategies for achieving the 2020 target centre on three themes.
1. skip.
2.Engage the public in dialogue and co‐production of solutions for lighter footprint. “Engagement” means working across the spectrum of public participation including informing, consulting, involving, collaborating, and empowering [footnote 12 – International Association for Public Participation. IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation, 2007.].


The City of Vancouver “Greenest City Action Plan” refers to IAP2, the International Association of Public Participation — particular its “spectrum of consultation.” The IAP2 Code of Ethics and Core Values are of particular interest. As of today (May 27, 2013) we have not been able to get a clear answer from City Hall about its position on IAP2, so we have no idea about the official stance. But CityHallWatch encourages citizens to look at the words and actions of the City, and compare them with IAP2, then ask how Vancouver is doing.

IAP2 Code of Ethics

PURPOSE. We support public participation as a process to make better decisions that incorporate the interests and concerns of all affected stakeholders and meet the needs of the decision-making body.
ROLE OF PRACTITIONER. We will enhance the public’s participation in the decision-making process and assist decision-makers in being responsive to the public’s concerns and suggestions.
TRUST. We will undertake and encourage actions that build trust and credibility for the process among all the participants.
DEFINING THE PUBLIC’S ROLE. We will carefully consider and accurately portray the public’s role in the decision-making process.
OPENNESS. We will encourage the disclosure of all information relevant to the public’s understanding and evaluation of a decision.
ACCESS TO THE PROCESS. We will ensure that stakeholders have fair and equal access to the public participation process and the opportunity to influence decisions.
RESPECT FOR COMMUNITIES. We will avoid strategies that risk polarizing community interests or that appear to “divide and conquer.”
ADVOCACY. We will advocate for the public participation process and will not advocate for interest, party, or project outcome.
COMMITMENTS. We ensure that all commitments made to the public, including those by the decision-maker, are made in good faith.

IAP2 Core Values

The Core Values define the expectations and aspirations of the public participation process.

1. Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
2. Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.
3. Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.
4. Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
5. Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
6. Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
7. Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.


Twitter feed

  1. Vancouver’s adopted the @IAP2 specturm of public participation.

  2. @dbhume terrific news – what led to the decision?

  3. @AmeliaShaw60 I think it was mainly the work of council staff and councillor @andreareimer

@dbhume @AmeliaShaw60 we really needed a common language for engagement and IAP2 tool is both simple and able to absorb complexity

7:24 PM – 29 Oct 12

Tweet text

Image will appear as a link
  1. @andreareimer @dbhume @AmeliaShaw60 QUESTION, Clr Reimer, can you provide more info on this? Has CoV formally adopted IAP2. Official info?

  2. @cityhallwchvan @dbhume @AmeliaShaw60 spectrum used by staff as common language. not something that would require “official” action

  3. @andreareimer @CityHallWchVAN @dbhume @AmeliaShaw60 About IAP2, more info? Staff workshops? Specific, conscious applications? Documentation?

  4. @cityhallwchvan great question 4 staff Randy. as discussed they manage operations. think you know how to contact them?

  5. @andreareimer Sorry, no. Which staff? City Manager? 311? As main holder of “consultation” portfolio, could you point us to right person?

CityHallWatch end note: As far as we can tell, there is no such position as “manager of engagement.” Was this a joke? Or a mistake? Or what?

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