MEANINGFUL PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT: PERSPECTIVES FROM CANADIAN PARTICIPANTS, PROPONENTS, AND GOVERNMENT
JENNIFER M. P. STEWART
A. JOHN SINCLAIR
The benefits of public participation in EA have been clearly described in both theoretical and practical terms. Despite the wealth of benefits ascribed to engaging the public in EA, the design and implementation of specific public participation programs remains contentious. In fact, public participation processes are still frequently criticized as dissatisfying by participants, costly, and time consuming, by proponents, and inefficient by governments. The purpose of this research was, therefore, to establish whether there are points of convergence in opinion among participant, proponent, and government sectors regarding what constitutes appropriate principles and procedures for meaningful public participation. Our approach was qualitative and included consideration of the literature and interviews with Canadian public participation practitioners. Government, proponent and participant respondents identified and agreed on eight key elements, along with sub-components, of meaningful public participation. These elements, as well as those where convergence was not reached, are outlined and discussed.
Public participation, environmental assessment, Canada
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