Community consultation on urban development projects in Ottawa often seems like a meaningless exercise. Most of us can name an example (or two!) within our own neighbourhoods where community consultation was either non-existent or superficial at best.

While there are many reasons why community consultation in Ottawa is problematic, one of the toughest challenges facing Ottawa urban planners is how to gather input from a diverse range of citizens. But how do planners help citizens understand and visualize urban design proposals? How do they solicit and capture the many and often divergent voices? And how can they effectively incorporate those views into an urban design project?

Our latest grantee, Integrative Solutions Group (ISG) has an idea to improve democratic planning for cities. ISG, an integrative design consultancy, is bringing together three software apps: a 3D streaming app for architectural rendering; a multi-stakeholder input app; and a decision support app. 3D Lab enables citizens to see proposed developments and changes in real-time, animated 3D rather than renderings on flat maps. Milieu and Greatwork enable citizens to comment, vote, and submit their ideas and also help urban planners to analyze the feedback and eventually incorporate them into a design.

ISG is using their JustChange grant and their urban sustainability expertise to bring the three software developers together in a one-day, design charrette in order to explore the creation of a publicly available online citizen engagement tool for urban development. Working in parallel, these three apps could become a powerful community consultation tool for Canadian municipalities.

We invite you to come celebrate this idea at JustDrinks on Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 6 -8 pm at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse (34 Murray Street.) Click here to reserve your free ticket. Fatboys is an accessible location. If you have any specific questions please contact the venue.