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Cultivating Green Space Together: Exploring the Collaborative Planning and Public Engagement of Green Space in Edmonton, Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Luo, Jie
  • Edmonton, the fifth-largest municipality in Canada, is attracting more and more people to study, work, and live. Expected to nearly double in population by 2050, the City of Edmonton put forward a series of plans to enable a sustainable and climate-resilient city to accommodate new residents. Green spaces, including natural areas and urban open spaces (such as public parks and squares, corridors, linkages, and main streets), are increasingly regarded as dominant elements in promoting environmental sustainability and quality of life in cities. Therefore, how to plan and manage the green space while welcoming more people has become a key question for the City of Edmonton to consider.
    This research aims to critically explore the formulation of green space strategy from different perspectives under the collaborative planning and public engagement context. The objectives are to 1) elucidate the engagement process between the government and various stakeholders/public; 2) explore the engagement experience from different perspectives; 3) make recommendations for the collaborative green space planning as the plan is rolled out and acted upon. A social constructivist worldview adopted, and mixed qualitative research methods, including semi-structured interview, case study, and document review are applied to explore the topic. Each interview is approximately 40 to 60 minutes, and the potential interview participants may come from the municipal government, stakeholder organizations, or the local community. A case of the public engagement system in Edmonton was formed during this study. The research concludes by offering some salient lessons for those interested in advancing socially robust green space planning methods which integrate community engagement within planning and municipal government. Key findings suggest a shared view amongst city officials and community members as to the benefit of engagement. These variously were seen to include, for example, benefits to promoting public understandings of greenspace planning and municipal governance; values in connecting citizen experience of greenspace with ecological and sustainability planning; and supporting perceptions of belonging, ownership and responsibility for Edmonton’s green spaces. The research also identifies two key challenges to be addressed. The significantly included the difficulty of maintaining long-term relationships between City officials and wider public networks; challenges in protecting, or upholding, public voices within the bureaucratic policy process once an engagement or plan is complete. The thesis concludes by proposing the potential of simplifying planning and policy hierarchies as a means of addressing the above challenges, puts forward the value of moving from consultative to collaborative models of engagement and the need for publics to be better integrated within actual decision-making.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-ayfb-ce71
  • License
    Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.