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The public hearing process has become something of a battleground forum, particularly when it comes to affordable housing proposals. This video provides a glimpse of what the public hearing process can be like and why we need to Renovate the Public Hearing.

Recent Work Highlights

  • Town of Gibsons Residents Assembly: a national and international case study, as Canada’s first residents' assembly tied to an Official Community Plan and one of the smallest municipalities in the world to host an assembly process 

  • Our project partner, BCLI, recently finished collecting public input for their Consultation Paper on Renovating the Public Hearing, which will be released this spring

  • The National Dialogue on Public Hearings, Land Use and Democracy in January 2024 convened participants and experts from across the country to elevate the conversation to a national level

  • Collaborative projects with four municipalities (in progress—results and reports upcoming)

  • Community dialogues and evaluation partnerships with local organizations, including the HUA Foundation and a number of Indigenous groups

  • UNCOP28 presentation on the theme of multi-level action, urbanization, housing & built environment in December 2023

  • Participation in several conferences in 2023, including the UBCM conference panel, FCM conference, Housing Central and FCM Housing Summit, and ran a workshop with YWCA City Shift at the Columbia Institute's High Ground Conference

  • Collaborative youth-focused projects engaging with young people in British Columbia to educate them on the public hearing process and gain their insight and input into public hearing reform

  • The Innovator's Forum in March 2023 attracted a total engagement count of 80, bringing together diverse stakeholders to deliberate on identifying barriers and enhancing the current public hearing process

Three Streams of Work

Project Activities


We completed 60 informal scoping interviews and reviewed more than 150 academic research articles and archive documents related to public hearings in BC and public engagement practices worldwide. We are conducting formal research to identify barriers and costs related to public hearings in BC.


The Centre is hosting and testing alternatives to public hearing models in four local governments in British Columbia. Each pilot will build community members' capacity, develop toolkits and provide facilitation education to reduce barriers to community participation.


We are hosting and participating in learning exchanges with pilot partners and deliberative dialogues with participants from all phases to workshop policy recommendations.


BC Law Institute led a 70-page study paper on BC public hearing legislation and common law. They are currently leading an advisory-informed legal reform process to understand opportunities and implications for reform, and will be releasing a final Consultation Paper on Renovating the Public Hearing.


We have created a principles and values based rubric to evaluate pilot alternatives. The evaluation will track opinions, emotions, and knowledge changes created during the pilots via ethnographic observation, surveys, and interviews.


We are creating public-facing communications via website, social media, opinion pieces and traditional media, as well as hosting dialogues, activities for high schools and seniors, and community events that celebrate public engagement and democracy to educate residents and build capacity in municipalities.

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