The Reinventing the City approach was adopted by Lac-Mégantic following a 2013 tragedy. The city allows citizens to share their ideas and visions for the future; The goal of designing is a plan for the reconstruction of the city center focused on the good of the community.
Problems and Purpose
Since 2014, the City of Lac-Mégantic has been leading a major citizen participation process in order to design the reconstruction plan for the disaster area. As part of the exercise officially launched in March, citizens of the city and region are invited to share their ideas and visions. The process is called Reinventing the city , since the city council believes this is a good opportunity to inject new energy into the whole city and region. "The intention is to provoke a reflection and, then, to take actions likely to transform the tragedy into an opportunity to rally behind a great collective project" (extract from the mission of the Réinventer la ville em >). & nbsp;
Background History and Context
The derailment of a drifting train of 72 tank cars containing oil caused violent explosions and a fire that claimed the lives of 47 citizens of Lac-Mégantic and destroyed, in the city center, some forty commercial, residential and heritage buildings, including the municipal library and the city archives. In the months following the tragedy, the urgency of reconstruction was felt in the small bereaved community of the Eastern Townships, in the Canadian province of Quebec, not far from the American border. Given that major soil decontamination work will take place throughout 2014, the City of Lac-Mégantic, under the leadership of its mayor Colette Roy Laroche, invites the population to get involved in the objective. to reinvent their downtown area by the end of the year. & nbsp;
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Community workshops and the citizens' assembly are organized by the Convercité organization, mandated by the City to carry out the Réinventer la ville process. The City of Lac-Mégantic is financially supported by the governments of Quebec and Canada, as well as by an aid fund set up by the Canadian Red Cross. & Nbsp;
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The citizen process set up in Lac-Mégantic does not involve the selection of participants, since it invites the entire population of Lac-Mégantic and the MRC du Granit to participate in community workshops Reinventing the city . & Nbsp;
Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
On March 26, 2014, the mayoress of Lac-Mégantic, Ms. Colette Roy Laroche, presented citizens with a summary of the road traveled since the tragedy. It also launched the citizen participation process which will allow the community to design the reconstruction plan for the city center. The City has established two guidelines to frame the discussions: respecting a duty to remember victims and adopting a sustainable development approach. The project ultimately intends to take into account the major development challenges of the city and its region.
On April 15 and 16, 2014, citizens are invited to participate in the first work of exchange and reflection, in groups of 8 to 10 participants, which made it possible to collect many general ideas relating to the reconstruction of their downtown.
During the second workshop, held on May 13 and 14, 2014, participants were able to learn about the key ideas that emerged from the first part of the workshops. These 16 “consensus” statements are available from the website of the Réinventez la ville initiative ( http://reinventerlaville.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Ateliers-16- % C3% A ... ). Among them, we find the desire to provide the new downtown area with "visual and physical access to Lac Mégantic", the desire to make the new downtown area a "lively space, where it is also possible to indulge. to contemplation and contemplation ”, as well as the firm desire to exclude from this space the“ transport of dangerous materials, in particular on a railroad ”. During this second workshop, participants work from four scenarios. This involves determining the future location of the road network and cycle paths, as well as parks and green spaces. In order to make the discussion dynamic and to continue the creative process, each group's mission is to draw a map of the future city center, locating the main facilities that the participants want to find there (e.g. parks and green spaces , homes, shops and offices, etc.). Some 500 people responded to the call to Reinvent the City at the first and second workshops.
During the third workshop, held on June 17, 2014, a preliminary plan is submitted to the population by the town planner and the City's consultant for deliberation. The proposed plan translates into images the 16 consensuses that were identified during the first workshop and reflects the citizens' preferences expressed by the plans developed during the second workshop. It is possible to consult the preferential scenario proposed on the Internet page of the initiative ( http: //reinventerlaville.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/R%C3%89INVENTER-L ... ). One of the highlights of the development plan is the complete disappearance of the railway lines in downtown Lac-Mégantic. The purpose of presenting the preliminary plan is to define the main functions and uses planned for the city center, and not to choose specific reconstruction projects. The plan provides for specific locations for certain activities, commercial, residential, as well as cultural. During the town hall, citizens were invited to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the preliminary plan. This information will be collected and will be used to improve the preferred development plan. The citizens seemed to welcome the preliminary development plan. "It is remarkable to note to what extent opinions converge when it comes to defining the main uses in the heart of downtown and the place where they should be planned," said the deputy mayor of Lac-Mégantic. , Jean-Guy Bouffard. Some 250 people came to this workshop.
The work will continue in committee in the summer of 2014. In September, the citizen approach Reinvent the city continues with the holding of other meetings with the objective of clarifying and refining the vision of downtown development. These meetings will also be used to design an action plan for the implementation of the preferred development plan. It will be up to the city council to adopt the plan, which will be the fruit of the citizens' process.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
It is too early to know the outcome of the deliberations and the work carried out through the citizen participation workshops. When the development plan is implemented and the citizens have had the opportunity to take advantage of the commercial, residential, institutional and cultural sectors arranged as a result of the projections of the privileged scenario plan, they will be able to assess the quality. of their deliberative efforts and of the translation of them by the officials and experts at the head of Reinventing the city . & nbsp;
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The situation of the City of Lac-Mégantic is exceptional. Few of the small communities similar to that of Lac-Mégantic are faced with such a tragedy: the disappearance of 47 of their own as well as the destruction of a large part of the city's heritage and commercial area. Lac-Mégantic is, however, in a privileged financial position: it benefits from renewed support from the governments of Quebec and Canada, as well as from the Red Cross. It can thus rely on financial resources that far exceed those of the community. The fact remains that it is interesting to note that the City of Lac-Mégantic is taking advantage of a similar opportunity to “breathe new energy into the entire city and the region” through consultations. citizens, who can slow down decision-making, especially because they have to be taken within a defined financial framework. This is undoubtedly further proof that citizens' initiatives are coming to the minds of decision-makers at the regional level more quickly, even in emergency situations where time and financial resources are limited. & nbsp;
Deliberation & nbsp;
Lead Image: Citizen Participation Approach: Reinventing the City of Lac-Mégantic https://goo.gl/Sj11jC