ARCHIVED - Improving Stakeholder Relationships: Public Involvement and the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan: A Guide for Site Managers

Cat. No.: H128-1/05-441E

Table of Contents


As part of Health Canada's overall mission to help the people of Canada maintain and improve their health, the Department's Contaminated Sites Division provides expert support for federal custodial departments managing contaminated sites under the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP).The other three expert support departments are Environment Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. FCSAP addresses those federal sites deemed to pose the greatest potential risk to human health and the health of the environment.

The responsibilities for a custodial department dealing with a contaminated site are complex and challenging.The Contaminated Sites Division provides these departments with expert support in the form of guidance, training and advice relating to:

  • Human health risk assessment in Canada.
  • Expertise on environmental assessments under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA).
  • Public involvement tools that enable custodial departments to consider and integrate the concerns and knowledge of diverse interested and affected Canadians.

The assessment of a contaminated site goes beyond simply removing harmful agents, and requires involving stakeholders who have significant concerns about the health and safety of their families and communities. If not addressed appropriately, these concerns can create an environment of distrust and frustration that can delay an assessment or remediation process.

Implementing meaningful public involvement strategies through all stages of site identification, assessment and clean up can help to develop stakeholder trust in these processes, and most importantly, stakeholder support for remediation plans. Public involvement can also improve departmental decision making by incorporating stakeholder advice and knowledge into the overall management plan for a contaminated site.

Stakeholders want effective mechanisms to ensure that they are appropriately informed, that their views are heard and that they have opportunities to influence decisions that have the potential to affect them.This is particularly true in a contaminated site assessment and clean up, where the actions and decisions taken by custodial departments could have a real impact on the people living and working near the site and on their ability to manage their health.

To meet these stakeholder needs, a custodial department needs to incorporate public involvement into the assessment and remediation process at every step:

  • site identification--management of the inventory of the department's contaminated sites;
  • site assessment--characterization of contamination (phases 1, 2 and 3); risk assessment;
  • site remediation--elaboration of remediation strategy; contracting of remediation work; site monitoring;
  • risk management--ongoing monitoring (risk managers should give public participation activities the same priority and resources as technical studies).

To ensure that public involvement is incorporated in the fullest and most effective manner possible, every site management plan (with a very few exceptions, as discussed in section 1.7, The Go/No Go Decision) should incorporate a public involvement plan.

This document provides detailed guidance for preparing such a plan, as well as information and resources for site managers with contaminated site responsibilities. It is intended for use by those with a wide range of public involvement experience, from those who have managed complex sites with multiple stakeholders to those who have some involvement with a simple site requiring very little stakeholder input.

This guide is divided into five parts:

  • Part 1: Understanding the Basics, introduces the principles and concepts used in the public involvement planning process and provides background information, finishing with a "go/no go" tool to help guide you through the decision of whether or not to incorporate public involvement in a remediation project.
  • Part 2: Laying the Groundwork, discusses all the aspects of preparing to create a public involvement plan, including a consideration of strategies, opportunities, stakeholders, and tools.
  • Part 3: Developing the Public Involvement Plan, takes you step by step through the elements of a plan, outlining what information--either gleaned in Part 2 or newly introduced--should be included and how it should be structured and presented.
  • Part 4: Case Studies, describes some real-life examples of public involvement in site remediation, offering for each one what lessons were learned.
  • Part 5: References and Resources, provides a list of useful information sources, including several other Health Canada documents.

1.0 Understanding the Basics

1.1 What is public involvement?

Health Canada defines public involvement as the level of participation by the public, or the extent to which the public is actively involved in understanding, assessing or resolving issues of public concern. Public involvement encompasses a wide range of activities that can be used to engage Canadians in government decision making processes.

Public involvement can occur at many levels. It starts with outreach to build awareness and interest, and can evolve to a fuller exchange of information, to in-depth discussions with and recommendations to and from the public, moving in some cases into a full partnership and joint decision making.

1.2 The benefits of public involvement

There are significant benefits for custodial departments in creating meaningful public involvement processes, including the following:

  • increasing stakeholder trust in the custodial department's ability to manage the process effectively;

  • increasing stakeholder understanding of the site identification, assessment and remediation processes, and increasing stakeholder capacity to participate meaningfully in these processes;

  • mproving departmental decision making by incorporating stakeholder advice and knowledge into the design and management of a project;
  • enhancing the credibility of a project through the development of shared ownership and support for remediation plans;
  • avoiding conflicts by identifying and addressing critical stakeholder issues early in the process;
  • ensuring that the nature and scope of public involvement reflects any legal obligations;
  • improving stakeholder relationships and increasing mutual understanding so that long-standing disagreements can be addressed;
  • creating real and lasting change by designing and implementing a process that addresses community priorities in a meaningful way; and,
  • helping the people of Canada maintain and improve their health.

As you develop a public involvement plan for a particular site management project, consider how these benefits can help the custodial department to effectively address some of the specific challenges related to that project.

1.3 What's driving the movement towards public involvement?

Why the trend to increase public involvement in contaminated site management? And why now? Several important "drivers" of this movement are outlined below. They are all grounded, however, in two fundamental principles:

  • Transparency--Facilitating public access to and understanding of information and processes used by a custodial department to conduct its business; and,
  • Openness--Inviting, hearing, considering and sharing of information in the conduct of the custodial department's business.

These two basic principles are at the heart of the public involvement concept. They are discussed in more detail, along with strategies for implementing them, in section 2.1.

1.3.1 Recognition of Stakeholder Needs

The first important driver in the move toward public involvement in contaminated site management is the simplest: stakeholders want, need and demand to be involved in processes and decisions that will, or may have an impact on their lives.

Canadians are better educated and informed today than ever before about health and environmental issues, as well as about their rights. There is also a widespread awareness of the unfortunate results of several past episodes in which government agencies have not effectively involved stakeholders in contaminated site management plans. These facts, combined with the general lack of trust in government found in today's society and the fierce media attention focused on instances of environmental contamination, have led to a strong demand on the part of Canadians for greater levels of public involvement.

Health Canada recognizes that not only are stakeholder demands for more involvement and increased access to information legitimate, but that the public's perceptions and opinions are in and of themselves important. The government must not only meet stakeholders' needs, but be seen to be meeting them too.

1.3.2 Federal Government Commitments

In recent years, the Government of Canada has demonstrated an increasing commitment to public involvement. Speeches from the throne consistently speak to this issue, and a number of policy and legislation initiatives have taken steps toward addressing it. Various federal departments, including Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Indian and Northern Affairs, have also instituted internal policies that encourage public involvement activities that will enable Canadian individuals, groups, and communities to help shape decisions that affect them.

The following excerpts from a wide range of federal documents illustrate how public involvement is increasingly becoming an integral part of the way the government of Canada operates.

  • Treasury Board Secretariat, Consultation and Citizen Engagement Policy--This draft policy of "the Government of Canada [should] involve Canadians in the development and evaluation of public policies, programs, services and initiatives through consultation and citizen engagement processes that are transparent, accessible and accountable, and that reflect Canada's diversity" (2001: 6).

  • Privy Council Office, A Framework for the Application of Precaution in Science-Based Decision Making about Risk--This document suggests that "public involvement should be structured into the scientific review and advisory process, as well as the decision making process" and that"public involvement is needed to provide an opportunity to receive interpretations on uncertainty and risk" (2003: 10).

  • Treasury Board Secretariat, Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan (FCSAP)--This multi-departmental plan has four main objectives, one of them being: "to increase public confidence in the overall management of federal contaminated sites and in the remediation/risk management of individual federal contaminated sites."
  • Contaminated Sites Management Working Group,--A Risk Management Framework for Contaminated Sites--This framework for risk managers and others involved in contaminated sites states that: "The departmental role will dictate the legal responsibilities and obligations to the public that the department may have when remediating contaminated sites and again must be clearly articulated at the onset of the planning stage" and stresses that "Public and stakeholder participation should continue throughout the decision making process."
  • Canadian Council of Ministers for the Environment, Guidance Document on Management of Contaminated Sites in Canada--This document specifically refers to the importance of public involvement in managing contaminated sites in Canada, as follows:

    • "Residents located near a contaminated site realize that these contaminants may affect their quality of life and property."
    • ". . . contaminated site management should include . . . developing a 'community information program' (public involvement plan) to guide their relationship with the public (stakeholders)."
    • "Implementing the (public involvement) program early should be considered."

1.3.3 Federal Legislation

Two major pieces of federal legislation pertaining to contaminated sites all further highlight the need to involve the public.

  • The Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which provides for the regulation of toxic substances, including those found at contaminated sites, "encourage[s] the participation of the people of Canada in the making of decisions that affect the environment." (CEPA 1999: 4)
  • The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which applies to most remediation projects, specifies that "there be opportunities for timely and meaningful public participation throughout the environmental assessment process." (1992, c.37) There are mandatory public processes for comprehensive studies, and panel reviews are open to public input. Comments received from the public that are relevant to the Environmental Assessment must be considered by the responsible authority under the act, and the public registry must include comments from the public in reaction to the assessment.

1.4 The capacity building approach

Capacity in this context means the ability or potential of stakeholders (who may include residents, local industry, community organizations, and other involved parties--see section 2.3) to address issues that affect community well being and sustainability.

Building capacity can be an important step in public involvement. Stakeholders may or may not, at the outset of a site management process, have the skills, resources, or experience necessary to become involved in the process in a meaningful way. If they do not, then even the most inclusive public involvement plan cannot be completely successful. Custodial departments can help build capacity by providing opportunities for stakeholder training and skills development, as well as resources to facilitate community engagement and partnership.

To integrate this approach into the management of a contaminated site requires public involvement plans that not only stipulate, but actively support community participation in all stages of site management.

1.5 Levels of public involvement

There are many levels of public involvement, each representing a different degree of public interaction with a custodial department.

1.5.1 The Public Involvement Continuum

Health Canada has developed a model (presented in Figure 1.1, below) that identifies five levels for public involvement, from straightforward sharing of information (Level 1) through full partnership in decision making (Level 5).As the degree of interaction increases, the degree of stakeholder influence also grows.

Figure 1.1 - Health Canada's Public Involvement Continuum

Figure 1.1 - Health Canada's Public Involvement Continuum

Note that, while the model identifies discrete levels, the exact degree to which the public interacts with the custodial department will be different for every project.While the range of possible public involvement levels illustrated in Figure 1.1 is presented as a continuum, the model is in fact fluid and non-linear such that activities from several levels can be used during different phases of site management. For example, within one project, a custodial department may discuss clean-up criteria for remediation (Level 3), partner with a community regarding decisions about future use of a site (Level 5), and inform people about the timing of remediation activities (Level 1).

There is no one-size-fits-all model for public involvement. Part of the job of planning and managing a successful project is assessing what degree of public involvement is appropriate at various stages of site management (for more on this topic, see section 2.5).

1.5.2 Choosing an Appropriate Level of Public Involvement

The public involvement strategies selected by custodial departments should reflect the degree of public interaction and stakeholder influence appropriate to the project, and the phase of site management. The following criteria are provided to help identify the most appropriate level of public involvement for the various phases of a FCSAP project.

Level 1 --- Communications (inform, educate) is appropriate when:

  • the project is fairly simple (i.e., the site is very isolated and there is little or no potential risk to human health);
  • the public needs facts to address their concerns about the FCSAP project, to understand the nature and extent of contamination, and/or as a lead up to more involvement;
  • there is no opportunity to influence outcomes because a decision has been made;
  • the public needs to know about both the assessment process and the results of the process; and,
  • due to an emergency or crisis, the custodial department must take immediate action.

Level 2 --- Listening (gather information) is appropriate when:

  • the project process is at an early stage and information is needed on general views and perspectives;
  • project decisions are still being shaped and it's useful to test out some options;
  • the department needs to collect opinions and concerns from stakeholders as part of its assessment processes;
  • there may not be a firm commitment to do anything with the information collected (participants should be advised of this from the outset so that their expectations are clear); and,
  • the department wants to obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.

Level 3 --- Consulting (discuss) is appropriate when:

  • an opportunity exists for public input to influence a decision or final outcome related to the project, such as remediation or risk management alternatives, or future land uses;
  • the custodial department needs a two-way exchange of information to better understand the public's issues and concerns, and for the public to understand the site assessment process;
  • the custodial department wishes to support dialogue among stakeholders as well as with them; and,
  • individuals and organizations are interested in the FCSAP project and/or will probably be affected by the remediation and future land uses.

Level 3 encourages dialogue between stakeholders and custodial departments. Consulting can foster meaningful discussion but doesn't need to facilitate agreement. Stakeholder expectations are that they will be listened to and their concerns/issues will be considered. They should be given feedback about how their input influenced the project decisions. In FCSAP projects, consultation often occurs when the custodial department presents possible remedial or risk management measures to stakeholders for comment.

Level 4 --- Engaging is appropriate when:

  • the FCSAP project involves complex matters loaded with value-laden issues, such as effects on jobs, health risks, or changes to traditional land use activities;
  • stakeholders have the capacity to influence project decisions that affect them;
  • there is an opportunity to work with stakeholders to develop plans and/or alternatives related to the project;
  • stakeholders are interested in volunteering their time and resources in support of the custodial department;
  • timing is open enough that stakeholders and the custodial department can deliberate about concerns;
  • stakeholders and the custodial department will respect alternatives produced together; and,
  • there may be psychological effects, such as fear, frustration, and anger, due to living in or near a contaminated site that can only be addressed through engagement.

At this level, the custodial department asks the community and other stakeholders to help solve the problems associated with the contaminated site. Stakeholder engagement occurs when there is a capacity for stakeholders to shape the project decisions that affect them; there is opportunity for shared agenda setting and open time frames for deliberation on the issues; and, options generated together will be respected.

Level 5 --- Partnering is appropriate when:

  • the issues associated with the contaminated site are significant and a solution requires sharing of power and responsibility;
  • the custodial department wants to empower individuals and groups so that they manage or co-manage the project;
  • groups and individuals are willing and able to take up problem-solving challenges associated with the FCSAP project;
  • the custodial department is ready to assume the role of facilitator, supporter, and partner;
  • there is a formal organization, such as another level of government, that has the resources and capabilities to take on part of the responsibility for the risk assessment process, or an element thereof; and,
  • there is an agreement to implement solutions agreed to by other stakeholders.

At this level, the public and the custodial department are working as partners, with both groups making recommendations and making decisions that will be implemented together. Real partnerships occur when stakeholders have accepted the challenge of developing solutions themselves.

1.6 The public involvement planning cycle

Public involvement is not a one-step process but a cycle, with four distinct phases (see Figure 1.2). The first phase is establishing whether public involvement is needed for a particular project in the first place, and if so, why (see section 1.7, below, for more on this "go/no go" decision). The next phase is preparation--researching the situation, laying the groundwork, and putting a planning process into place (discussed in part 2 of this document). The third phase is actually creating, then implementing, the public involvement plan, and the fourth phase is evaluating its effectiveness (these last two phases are discussed in part 3 of this document).

Figure 1.2 -Public Involvement Planning Cycle

Public Involvement Cycle

Figure 1.2 - Public Involvement Planning Cycle

1.7 The Go/No Go decision: Establishing the need for public involvement

Public involvement is called for in most site management situations, but not all.At each phase of the site identification, assessment and remediation, managers must decide whether or not public involvement is appropriate: if it is, they will move on to develop a public involvement plan, assessing at each stage of the site management process what level of public involvement is called for and what form it should take (topics that will be discussed in detail in part 2 of this document).

Because mandates and policies relating to the management of a contaminated site vary from one department to another, the legal responsibilities and obligations to the public must be clearly articulated at the onset of the planning stage.

With this framework of legal obligations, site managers should then consider other factors, such as community needs, public interest and safety concerns, in order to evaluate the need for and scale of public involvement called for at each phase of the site identification, assessment and remediation processes.

The following questions can provide a framework for the initial go/no go decision. (Remember that if you decide a public involvement plan is a "go," it does not necessarily need to be large in scale; it may be as simple as putting up a sign or mailing out a brochure (see sections 1.5 and 2.5 for more on different levels of public involvement).

GO: A public involvement plan should be developed if you answer YES to any of the following questions:

  • Do people live on the site?
  • Do individuals hunt or fish on the site?
  • Do individuals gather their traditional foods on site?
  • Do people live within the radius of influence of the site (i.e., within a radius where there is a potential for off site migration and/or direct impacts)?
  • Do people gather their traditional foods within the radius of influence of the site (i.e., within the delineated areas where there is a potential for off site migration and/or direct impacts)?
  • Does the community have concerns around safety and potential health impacts?
  • Does the custodial department have a legal requirement to consider stakeholder input in the project decisions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act or other regulatory frameworks?
  • Has one or more sectors of the population demonstrated an interest in the issue and a desire to participate in the decision making process?

NO GO: A public involvement plan should not be developed (although it may be called for in the future) if you answer YES to any of the following questions:

  • Is the custodial department in the midst of a crisis on the issue and immediate action is required?
  • Is the custodial department in an emergency situation?
  • Are the project issues of a secret nature (e.g., national security)?

Go/No Go: More Food for Thought

While your Go/No Go decision should be primarily driven by external factors, in some cases, internal factors may also influence your decision. The following questions may provide the site manager with some additional food for thought when making your go/no go decision:

  • What point are we at in the decision making process regarding site management?
  • Will public involvement help contribute to achieving the long-term goals of the project?
  • Is there an opportunity for public involvement to influence decision making about the project?
  • Where are the limits? How will public input influence decision making?
  • Do we have the resources to involve the public and other stakeholders in decision making?

2.0 Laying the Groundwork

2.1 Principles of effective public involvement

In order to ensure that public involvement is as effective as possible, focus on the two fundamental principles introduced in section 1.3: openness and transparency. Keeping these principles in mind while developing public involvement plans can help to ensure that stakeholders will understand their role in your project, and participate in a way that is meaningful to them and useful to you.

2.1.1 Openness

Openness is shaped by the following concepts:

  • Equal opportunities for participation--As much as possible, all parties who express an interest in an issue, or who are affected by an outcome, have an equal opportunity to influence decisions.

  • Relationship building--The public has ongoing involvement through which it can contribute its experience, expertise, knowledge and ideas for developing better public policies and for improving the design and delivery of programs.

  • Timeliness--Whenever possible, the public is involved early enough in the decision making process to be able to influence issues.

  • Planning--Participants have enough time to prepare and to contribute effectively to public involvement.

  • Support and Capacity Building--In recognition of the fact that stakeholders have differing capacities to participate in public involvement processes, proper infrastructure and necessary supports are in place to ensure effective involvement.

  • Clarity--The purpose and objectives of public involvement activities are clearly identified. Clear roles and expectations are established, known and understood by all.

  • Shared responsibility--All those who participate share responsibility for successfully meeting public involvement objectives and for evaluating results.

  • Accountability--Outcomes and commitments are met.

  • Innovation--New approaches and techniques are incorporated to encourage public involvement in decision making.

2.1.2 Transparency

Transparency is shaped by the following concepts:

  • Equal opportunity to access information--As much as possible, all parties who are affected by an outcome, or those who express interest on an issue, have equal access to unbiased and complete information.

  • Relevance--Members of the public receive useful and practical information that meets their needs.

  • Clarity--Communication with the public is in clear, objective language. Whenever possible, documents are written in plain language, so that the information can be understood by as many individuals as possible.

  • Accountability--Decisions are communicated widely and promptly, along with a rationale explaining how and why each decision was made.

  • Timeliness--The public receives information about public involvement processes early enough to have a reasonable opportunity to participate in them.

Communicating Risk Effectively

The principles of openness and transparency are important in all aspects of public involvement, including communicating issues of risk to the public.

People's response to learning about the risk can be significantly affected by how well their concerns are addressed. It will also depend in part on their familiarity with the issues and how they have been affected by the contamination. For example, a community that was unaware that they were living in proximity of a contaminated site will react much differently than a community that has been dealing with the contamination for 50 years.

The communication material you prepare as part of your plan should follow these guidelines:

  • provide accurate information about what is known and what is not known;
  • address fears and preoccupation with immediate health (e.g., pregnancy, breastfeeding) and long-term health (e.g., cancer, fear of potential harm to future generations);
  • include information about the safety of food, water supplies and air;
  • recognize and reflect uncertainty about health effects; and,
  • use simple metaphors or other messages to explain complex scientific ideas.

2.2 Opportunities for public involvement

There are many opportunities to involve the public in the identification, assessment and remediation of contaminated sites. Identifying these opportunities calls for viewing the issues from stakeholders' perspectives in order to see how they might want to be involved. Following the principles of openness and transparency (as detailed in section 2.1, above), custodial departments are often well served to effectively involve the public throughout the entire site management process; from site assessment to problem formulation, throughout the risk assessment framework and through to remediation and/or risk management.

Table 2.1 outlines the many opportunities for public involvement that exist throughout the site management process.

Table 2.1: Opportunities for Public Involvement
Site Management Activity PI Opportunity
Site Identification
  • Site identification through FCSAP or Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory
  • Determination of the need for a PI Plan
Site Assessment
  • Investigation of the contaminated site
  • Desktop/historical review (past activities, potential sources of contamination, conceptual exposure model)
  • Intrusive/site sampling (contamination delineation, update of conceptual exposure model, preliminary human health risk assessment)
  • Preparation of PI Plan
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Capacity building assessment
  • Assessment of psychosocial factors affecting the population in relation to the site
  • Identification of stakeholders needs regarding end-use of site
  • Ongoing information and education on assessment and remediation processes
Detailed Quantitative Human Health Risk Assessment
  • Problem formulation
  • Exposure assessment
  • Hazard assessment
  • Risk characterization
  • Stakeholders' input on:
    • Exposure pathways
    • Receptors
    • Contaminants of potential concern
    • Safe exposure limits
  • Information, education and participation of stakeholders in whole risk assessment process
Risk Management/Site Remediation
  • Design and implementation of remediation plan
  • Design and implementation of long-term monitoring plan
  • Evaluation of remediation strategies
  • Stakeholders' input on
    • Validation of remedial objectives
    • Validation of long-term monitoring and evaluation strategies
  • Information, education and participation of stakeholders in whole risk management/site remediation processes

As a general rule, the earlier you can involve stakeholders, the better. An informed public can better understand the complexities of the site assessment processes. Early involvement also provides more opportunities to build community capacity (see sections 1.4 and 2.4) allowing stakeholders to better understand and participate meaningfully in site management processes.

2.3 Potential stakeholders

Once the decision has been made to implement a public involvement strategy, the initial assessment should identify various stakeholders and their levels of interest in participating in the site management.

2.3.1 Defining the stakeholder environment

Each site is unique, with its own set of contamination related circumstances. Similarly, every site involves a unique set of stakeholders, each with its own history with interest in, and concern about the site. An effective public involvement plan reflects the differences among these groups and takes into account the extent to which the project decisions will affect each of them, as well as any reasons that might lead them to support or oppose the project.

Defining the stakeholder environment involves considering the unique circumstances of the project as they pertain to potential stakeholders. The following questions can provide a starting point:

  • Are there any groups or individuals who are geographically close to the site (e.g., residents, businesses, other land users)?
  • Are there any specific demographic groups that should be represented (e.g., workers at the site)?
  • Are there any groups or individuals who might be part of a hard-to-reach or marginalized community?
  • Are there any groups or individuals who might have unique perspectives and values that should be considered?
  • What groups or individuals should be involved for legal, political or technical reasons?
  • Are there any groups or individuals who will insist on being involved and cannot be left out of the process?
  • Are there any groups or individuals who might have local knowledge or experience of the site, or of addressing contaminated sites generally?
  • Are there any groups or individuals whose expertise, ideas or opinions are critical to the project's management?

2.3.2 Identifying the Stakeholders

In this context, stakeholders are all of those who may be interested in or affected by a federal contaminated site. Stakeholders may include individuals, families, households, groups (including government departments or branches) and organizations of all kinds (including businesses, environmental organizations, non-profit groups, industry representatives, community associations, and more). It is not only those who live at or near a site who have a stake in it, but those who work near it, eat food collected from it, vacation around it, or are in any other way affected by possible exposure. Stakeholders may be from a wide range of age groups, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, and cultural, religious and linguistic communities.

The following list identifies some of the categories of stakeholders who have been involved in site management public involvement initiatives in the past:

  • community members or residents;
  • Aboriginal groups (who may have a land claim associated with the property or who may use the site and surrounding areas for gathering, fishing, hunting or spiritual reasons);
  • provincial/territorial, regional and municipal governments;
  • industry, including companies that own the site or that are interested in purchasing it;
  • special interest groups, including environmental organizations, civil society associations or public health groups, of local to international scope;
  • health-care organizations; and,
  • visitors to the site (for example, in the case of contaminated border crossings, national parks or hospitals).

While this list is diverse, it is by no means exhaustive. Part of the role of a site manager when creating the public involvement plan is to carefully consider who may have an interest in the site and create a comprehensive list of potential stakeholders.

2.3.3 Psychosocial Effects

Understanding the emotional and social effects of contamination is as important as obtaining quality scientific evidence and technical expertise.

Psychosocial factors are the basic social, psychological, and cultural aspects of human interactions and their effect on mental well being. These factors do not act in isolation but form a complex network that can affect the health of individuals and communities near contaminated sites. Their intensity and impact will vary depending on proximity to the site, degree of exposure, losses experienced and efforts made by the authorities to provide appropriate psychosocial response measures.

In order to effectively manage a contaminated site, you must integrate both scientific and psychosocial analyses into the overall plan for the site. Ideally, careful planning will allow custodial departments to intervene with community coping mechanisms as early as possible. Consult and involve local psychosocial organizations in order to:

  • identify and assess the psychosocial factors that may affect stakeholders;
  • help stakeholders identify and communicate their concerns; and,
  • deliver appropriate support activities for stakeholders.

More details on the psychosocial factors that can affect stakeholders of a contaminated site, and on how a community capacity approach can help to address these factors, are described in Health Canada's guidance document Addressing Psychosocial Factors Through Capacity Building: A Guide for Managers of Contaminated Sites (2005).

2.4 Capacity building

As discussed in section 1.4, capacity building, working with stakeholders to increase their ability and potential for public involvement, is an important part of the management of a contaminated site. Taking a capacity building approach from the outset helps not only to increase the effectiveness of public involvement, but also to improve trust in the custodial department, and to head off a number of possible problems before they occur.

A number of strategies for capacity building are presented below.

2.4.1 Anticipate, Plan and Consult

  • Early in the planning process, get to know the community--its history, geography, culture, citizens, values and concerns--as well as the specifics of the site.
  • Consult with community members from the outset. Share ownership, responsibility, work and credit for the project.
  • Make sure the consultation is visible to the community--provide regular updates.
  • Identify what training the community will require in order to fully participate in the process.
  • Identify issues that may be barriers to community participation (e.g., language, access, culture, resources).
  • Identify psychosocial factors relating to the contaminated site that may affect the community.

2.4.2 Focus on Education

  • Provide ongoing training early in the planning process so that community members can:
    • learn about the site management process;
    • understand the concept of risk;
    • identify what information will be useful for project decision making; and,
    • develop the necessary skills to participate when asked for input.
  • Provide skills-building opportunities so that stakeholders can participate in long-term strategic planning around the future uses of the site and community sustainability.
  • Make sure that regulatory agencies, municipal governments and other stakeholders also have access to training and information.

2.4.3 Consider Providing Assistance

  • Be prepared to provide some funding to the community to support policy development and to cover administrative and technical needs.
  • Consider hiring an independent technical specialist (someone trusted by the community) to help the community understand the science.
  • Assist in providing the appropriate psychosocial support services.

2.4.4 Ensure Transparency

  • Develop an open dialogue with community representatives--create a common understanding of environmental and health issues.
  • Use plain language to communicate clear answers to questions from the community, especially relating to the following issues:
    • What is the risk?
    • What are the possible impacts on community members' physical and mental well being?
    • What measures can community members take to protect themselves?
  • Be forthcoming with information and available to answer questions.
  • When unfamiliar terms are necessary, prepare a glossary that explains them in plain language and ensure that it is widely available.
  • Translate important technical documents into plain language.
  • Where there are limits to what can be changed in response to public input, make the limits, and the reasons for them clear from the outset.

2.4.5 Recognize and Respect Local Expertise

  • Show respect for the community's competence; recognize community members as experts on their own community.
  • Trust that residents can help to determine how best to manage the site.
  • Strive to make advisory groups as inclusive and representative as possible.
  • Whenever possible, hire local individuals to lead processes.

2.4.6 Whenever possible, hire local individuals to lead processes.

  • Provide for communication to, from and among community members.
  • Support community initiatives such as local newsletters as a way for stakeholders to share information.
  • Provide timely distribution of project updates and final reports.

Maintaining Trust

To maintain trust and create confidence among potential participants throughout the public involvement process, practise "walking in the shoes" of interested and affected stakeholders. This exercise can of course be theoretical, but it might also involve strategic role-playing exercises in order to better comprehend and respect others' views.

Be Credible

Your department and its responsible personnel need to demonstrate the following:

  • You are technically competent.
  • You share similar priorities and values related to addressing the site.
  • You are honest and transparent, matching actions to words with no hidden agendas.
  • You respect the public.
  • You see the public as peers, showing reciprocity in your dealings.
  • You listen to the various stakeholders --actively soliciting advice, listening to responses and acknowledging what you hear.
  • You are keeping the public and other stakeholders informed.

Be Open and Transparent

Whenever seeking input from stakeholders, whether at community meetings, through surveys, or through informal contact, ensure that you embody the fundamental principles of transparency and openness (see sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 for more detail).

  • Be transparent from the outset about the extent to which your decisions on the site project will have an effect on the stakeholders.
  • Explain how their input will be used and if/ how stakeholder input will influence decisions.
  • Communicate clearly about why stakeholders are being asked to participate.
  • Ask them if they are the right people to be involved.
  • Explain the timing of activities and the extent of the involvement process.
  • Be flexible and wherever possible be responsive to any requests for more or different involvement.

Keep Records and Keep Promises

It is a good idea to document all interactions with stakeholders, especially commitments that you make. It is wise to collect contact information, including relevant background details, from all stakeholders right from the start. Keep track of which stakeholders--both external and internal to your department--who should be informed of any public involvement activities and key decisions. Keep in mind that it is often helpful to share information broadly-even with some groups that may not become directly involved.

2.5 Public Involvement Continuum: Techniques and Examples

As discussed in section 1.5, there are various levels of public involvement, from simple information exchange to full-scale partnering. While the extent of public involvement is a continuum and every situation is unique, it can be useful to consider the five levels identified by Health Canada as the basis for examining what techniques are suitable for what degree of involvement, and for reviewing important points to keep in mind during the planning and implementation processes.

This section will consider these issues for each level in turn, illustrated with some brief real-life examples.

2.5.1 Level 1 --- Inform

The public involvement techniques that can be used at this level are intended to get information out to the public, and they allow custodial departments to disseminate information in a cost-effective way. Examples include:

  • fact sheets, newsletters, brochures, and issue papers;
  • feature stories and press releases;
  • briefings at regular meetings of community organizations;
  • information centres;
  • toll free information lines;
  • backgrounders;
  • field trips and site tours;
  • door-to-door visits to neighbours;
  • open houses;
  • mail outs; and,
  • Web sites.

The techniques described here are effective methods to keep the public informed about the work that is being done. These tools are most useful when they are straightforward and employed early and frequently. Community members and other stakeholders are more likely to read and understand well written and attractively presented material than technical reports. Thus, despite the technical complexities of FCSAP projects, it is critical to:

  • use plain language that meets the needs of the various stakeholders who should be reached; and,
  • test the messages before they are widely disseminated to ensure that they are clear and understandable.

Technical reports should also be made available to stakeholders as requested for those individuals that are interested in the in depth technical information.

Examples of Level 1 Involvement

  • The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is responsible for remote contaminated sites where staff work and/or live, but which are infrequently accessed by the general public. In situations where risk management was deemed appropriate and the contamination was relatively simple to address, CBSA informed staff via e-mail of what to do to minimize exposure.
  • After preparing an area-wide risk assessment and establishing a management plan for a former municipal landfill,Transport Canada (TC) hosted an open house to communicate to residents and businesses that there was little potential risk to human health. The risk manager worked with TC's communications department to anticipate questions about risks to human health and environment and to prepare appropriate responses. TC continues to send biennial letter updates about the remediation project to stakeholders.

2.5.2 Level 2 --- Gathering Information

The techniques at the level of information gathering allow stakeholders to ask questions, share concerns, and to improve their understanding of issues related to a FCSAP project. In addition, these techniques allow custodial departments to hear and understand the community concerns. Generally, at this level, it is not a priority that the stakeholders talk about the issue together; they are not expected to work through the issue collectively. Thus, some of the techniques at this level (i.e., focus groups) can easily become level 3 activities if an element of interaction becomes central to the process. Examples include:

  • interviews;
  • kitchen table meetings (informal meetings held at a "neutral" location);
  • surveys and questionnaires (either by mail, phone, or internet);
  • public hearings;
  • focus groups;
  • bilateral meetings with stakeholders;
  • public meetings; and,
  • workbooks.

Meeting with people face-to-face or talking on the phone can help to build trust and credibility in the project (and the department) and to develop positive relationships with stakeholders. Most people will eagerly welcome the opportunity to speak with individuals to share their issues and concerns. Therefore, custodial departments should:

  • be prepared to answer questions and discuss controversial issues when engaging the public directly, whether over the phone or in person;
  • be very clear about if and how the information gathered will be used; and,
  • carefully craft the messages that will be delivered, keeping in mind the importance of communicating risks in a simple and clear manner.

Examples of Level 2 Involvement

When Parks Canada was dealing with contamination associated with a site in close proximity to residences, the project manager went door-to-door to talk with neighbours. This "hands-on" approach allowed the project manager to explain how the site was going to be remediated while addressing residents' questions and concerns. Parks Canada also used the local community newspaper to provide project updates. In the end, the clean-up was well perceived and the community expressed relief that Parks Canada had dealt with the contamination.

2.5.3 Level 3 --- Consulting

Level 3 techniques encourage dialogue between the custodial department, community members, and other stakeholders. Examples of techniques include:

  • advisory committees, board/council;
  • online discussion groups;
  • conferences; and,
  • workshops.

It is important to keep the principle of transparency in mind, and to communicate clear expectations about how stakeholders will be consulted and what influence they will have regarding site management decisions.

In the case of advisory committees or stakeholder groups:

  • develop Terms of Reference (TOR) collaboratively with group members to clarify expectations and to understand how the members want to be involved;
  • where possible, develop personal relationships to encourage the continuity of all members; and,
  • retain a professional, independent facilitator (trusted by the stakeholders) who is able to encourage different viewpoints to be shared and heard, and who can effectively manage emotions (the same applies for workshops and other public meetings).
  • During the cleanup of a former military station, the Department of National Defence (DND) organized a stakeholder group that provided the project team with advice on technical issues over a four-year period. DND appointed an independent facilitator to lead the group. The stakeholder group process "made a big difference in developing and maintaining trust." In numerous face-to-face meetings, DND shared results with the stakeholder group throughout the site assessment process and informed the stakeholder group of different remediation options.
  • Following a detailed human health and ecological risk assessment on a contaminated federal building, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) held 8 to 10 workshops for staff at the site. The assessment showed that there weren't significant risks based on current site conditions, and additional mitigating measures could be employed if the site was to be excavated as part of future construction plans. Nonetheless, PWGSC took special care in how they communicated issues of risk during the workshops. All of the employees who worked in the contaminated building had a technical background and had many detailed questions. PWGSC strived to be open and transparent and to quantify issues as much as possible.

2.5.4 Level 4 --- Engagement

Like those for Level 3, engagement techniques are intended to promote dialogue and discussion among participants. Participants are expected to be deeply involved in considering the issues and trade-offs that the custodial department must address when making a decision. In addition to the Level 3 techniques, examples appropriate for Level 4 include:

  • task forces or peer review teams (i.e., an independent set of experts who are providing a neutral perspective on the work being completed by the custodial department);
  • charrettes (i.e., meetings that focus on design elements of a project, such as those related to future use of a site);
  • round tables (i.e., meetings of peers to discuss and exchange views); and,
  • deliberative polling (i.e., meetings where participants "vote" on choices made as part of a project after learning about issues and trade-offs).

Effective stakeholder engagement can provide significant benefits for a FCSAP project. When engaged successfully, stakeholders become advocates of the project decisions. Stakeholder engagement requires considerable commitment from both the custodial department and community participants. Stakeholders must be ready to devote time and energy to understanding the intricacies of the decision making processes within FCSAP; to understand the technical details of assessment and remediation plans; and, to work collaboratively with the custodial department and other stakeholders.

In order to support stakeholder engagement, custodial departments will need to:

  • demonstrate trust in stakeholders' willingness to work with the department;
  • demonstrate respect for stakeholder ideas and concerns;
  • build community capacity to understand the details of environmental site assessment and the decision making process;
  • be open to ideas and concerns from stakeholders and give them full consideration;
  • provide stakeholders with opportunities to influence the project decisions; and,
  • make technical resources available (funding, technical expertise, training) so that stakeholders can participate meaningfully in the process.

Examples of Level 4 Involvement

  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada engaged an entire northern community in the cleanup of a former mine. The project managers held regular meetings with the community as the assessment and future planning for the site moved forward. They visited regularly to present information as it became available and to listen to the concerns of the community. As well, the team conducted numerous site tours of which the communities chose elders and youth to take part.

2.5.5 Level 5 --- Partnering

Level 5 techniques often have a long-term perspective, assuming that the partnership developed will endure. Successful past examples of enduring partnerships have included:

  • Think Tanks;
  • Task Force;
  • Citizen Panels; and,
  • Consensus Conferences.

Partnering lends significant credibility to a site management process. By sharing responsibility for the decision, the partner(s) can also contribute expertise and resources to the process. When partnering:

  • set out expectations of how the sharing of responsibility will occur; and,
  • be clear on whether there are decisions that only the custodial department can make.

Examples of Level 5 Involvement

  • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) entered into an agreement with two Canadian municipalities to clean up and safely manage low-level radioactive waste as part of an Environmental Assessment (EA) process. In consultation with the municipalities, and with their assistance and support, an agency funded by NRCan has been completing the EA studies for regulatory review. The agreement requires that this agency obtain the written consent of the Municipalities before submitting documentation for the final review to the relevant authorities. As part of the communications plan set out in the agreement, each Municipality had the opportunity to establish a Community Advisory Committee (one Municipality acted on the opportunity) and to retain a peer review team to review all studies completed during the EA.

    * NB: this example is not part of FCSAP.

2.6 Tools for Effective Public Participation

Once you have identified an opportunity for a public involvement activity of some kind, you will need to choose some appropriate tools for accomplishing it. Table 2.2 presents a number of useful tools and resources that site managers can use to make public involvement a reality at various stages of the management task. (Section 3.6 discusses how and where to include your choice of tools in your public involvement plan.)

Table 2.2: Opportunities and Tools for Public Involvement
Site Activity PI Opportunity Sample PI Tools/Activities
  • Site identification through FCSAP or Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory
  • Determination of the need for a PI Plan
  • Go/ No Go Tool
  • Investigation of the contaminated site
  • Desktop / historical review (past activities, potential sources of contamination, conceptual exposure model) model)
  • Intrusive / site sampling (contamination delineation, update of conceptual exposure model, preliminary human health risk assessment)
  • Preparation of PI Plan
  • Stakeholder analysis
  • Capacity building assessment
  • Assessment of psychosocial factors affecting the population in relation to the site
  • Identification of stakeholders needs regarding end- use of site
  • Ongoing information and education on assessment and remediation processes
  • PI Guidance Manual
  • Psychosocial Factors Manual
  • Public meetings / workshops
  • Training sessions
  • Open houses
  • Question and answer sheets
  • Newsletters
  • Problem formulation
  • Exposure assessment
  • Hazard assessment
  • Risk characterization
  • Stakeholders' input on:
    • Exposure pathways
    • Receptors
    • Contaminants of potential concern
    • Safe exposure limits
  • Information, education and participation of stakeholders in whole risk assessment process
  • PI Plan
  • Surveys / door- to- door interviews
  • Advisory committees
  • Training sessions
  • Public meetings
  • Information centre
  • Design and implementation of remediation plan
  • Design and implementation of long- term monitoring plan
  • Evaluation of remediation strategies
  • Stakeholders' input on:
    • Validation of remedial objectives
    • Validation of long- term monitoring and evaluation strategies
  • Information/ education/ participation of stakeholders at all steps
  • PI Plan
  • Information centre
  • Advisory committees
  • Public meetings
  • Question and answer sheets
  • Newsletters

3.0 Developing the Public Involvement Plan

Once you have done the groundwork as described in part 2, you are ready to create a full public involvement plan. This plan should capture all the elements that you have considered when deciding on what public involvement processes and tools are appropriate to your project, and will guide you through the actual implementation. Developing a public involvement plan is not just extra paperwork. It is an essential part of the site remediation process. If done well, a public involvement plan will become an important guidance tool for you, your staff and everyone involved in the site management process.

3.1 Components of a public involvement plan

A public involvement plan consists of the following elements:

  • project description;
  • objectives for involving the public;
  • background on the project;
  • discussion of stakeholders;
  • tools for involving the public;
  • expected challenges;
  • schedule;
  • budget and resources;
  • feedback mechanisms; and,
  • evaluation plan.

The rest of this section discusses each of these elements in turn. For the first five elements, you will have already laid much of the groundwork (as discussed in part 2) by the time you are preparing a full plan, and will need to fill in the specific details. The last five elements may require more in-depth consideration at this point.

3.2 Project description and scope

This section provides a brief description of the scope of the project to be addressed by the public involvement plan--a simple statement of what has to be decided. Clarifying the scope of the plan is important to ensure that both the custodial department and the stakeholders know what type of decisions will be made at the end of the process. (See sections 1.5 and 2.5 for a discussion of the public involvement continuum and examples of what kind of scope might be appropriate for a variety of situations.) Where appropriate, stakeholders can be asked for assistance in scoping the public involvement plan.

3.3 Objectives

This section of the public involvement plan describes the overall objectives.

It is also important to be clear about why the public will be involved in the project, and to ensure that both the custodial department's and the stakeholders' expectations of the public involvement process are clearly communicated. Well-formulated objectives for the public involvement plan can avoid or reduce conflicts, which are more likely to arise when participants are left to make assumptions about the process.

Ensure that your objectives describe, in a clear and very specific way, what change or impact the public involvement process should have. Clear objectives should accomplish the following:

  • define the focus of the public involvement process and identify any questions or issues requiring a response from the public;
  • describe the expectations and the primary objectives of the potential stakeholders;
  • outline what change is to be achieved as a result of the public involvement activity; and,
  • establish performance indicators to evaluate the success of the public involvement activity.

Finally, it is important that your objectives are measurable. Here are some examples of clear, measurable objectives:

  • to increase stakeholder input into the development of site remediation and management plans.
  • to enhance public awareness of the degree, nature and extent of the contamination.
  • to increase stakeholder support of the remediation and management strategies chosen for the site.

3.4 Background

This section of the public involvement plan provides a detailed description of the historical context and current status of the project. It should also include the following:

  • an outline of any related public involvement activities to date, including their connection to the longer-term or larger project; and
  • a description of the rationale explaining why public involvement activities are needed, including any formal requirements for public involvement (i.e., whether the project is subject to an Environmental Assessment).

3.5 Stakeholders

This section of the plan identifies the stakeholders who might have an interest in, or may be potentially affected by the contaminated site. For a detailed list of potential stakeholders and further discussion about identifying them, see section 2.3.

For each group of stakeholders, the plan should describe the following:

  • their primary interest(s) or concern(s);
  • any special considerations, concerns or challenges that may affect their ability to participate in the public involvement process (e.g., language, distance);
  • the method of contact you plan to use to solicit their involvement; and,
  • the anticipated level of public involvement.

3.6 Public involvement tools

This section of the plan identifies the tools that will enable you to achieve your objectives. The choice of tools should reflect the various needs of stakeholders. (A list of suggested tools appropriate for various levels of public involvement is included in section 2.6.) For each tool, you should include the following:

  • how it will achieve one or more of the plan's objectives;
  • what stakeholders will be involved;
  • how long the involvement will last; and,
  • what preparation is required to implement the tool.

For tools that reflect a level of involvement at level 2 or higher on the continuum, you should also include the following:

  • how the input received will be used; and,
  • what feedback will be provided.

Possible feedback methods include sending a "thank you" letter to participants, summarizing and posting the feedback on a Web site, informing stakeholders via the Web, phone or fax, as to how their input was used.

3.7 Expected Challenges

This section of the plan outlines any expected challenges to public involvement that you may face over the course of the project and how you intend to address them. Table 3.1 offers some examples.

Table 3.1: Sample Expected PI Challenges and Possible Solutions

Expected Challenge

Possible Solutions

Poor attendance at meetings or workshops
  • Advertise more widely (post ads in additional newspapers, increase circulation of meeting notices among residents)
  • Advertise earlier
  • Ask local politicians or municipal staff about dates that will have fewer conflicting events
Mistrust of information provided by the project team
  • Make all information available for review, including background sources and raw data
  • Retain peer reviewer to conduct independent assessment of information
  • Host a joint fact-finding session where all participants examine the data sources together

3.8 Schedule

The schedule should cover all phases of developing and implementing the public involvement plan, including preparation, public involvement activities, analysis of input, provision of feedback to participants, and evaluation. It should show milestone dates for these phases within the context of the entire project. In developing the schedule, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • list key dates for decisions and completion of research or studies;
  • allow time during the planning phase to get support from senior staff and politicians;
  • consider what the overall departmental priorities are regarding the contaminated site, and identify any "milestone" dates for other steps of the process that may influence the scheduling of public involvement events;
  • take note of the events that may affect the availability of the public and other key factors in the process (e.g., holidays, local festivals);
  • advertise any events far enough in advance that the public can plan to attend (usually at least two weeks ahead of time);
  • allow adequate time for stakeholders to review the information germane to the process prior to an event, and to provide their input; and,
  • allow an equal amount of time for the custodial department to respond to questions, comments and other feedback from stakeholders.

A sample schedule for a public involvement plan is provided in Table 3.2.

Table 3.2: Sample PI Schedule




  • Submit public involvement plan for approval
  • Identify stakeholders and prepare contact list
  • Prepare background documents
Public Involvement Activity/Activities
  • Give the duration of each activity and list the steps required to implement each tool that supports that activity
Analysis of Input
(for level 2 and higher)
  • Compile information from records of activities (e.g., meeting/workshop minutes, comment sheets, notes from phone calls, e-mails, and other correspondence)
  • Identify themes and unique comments
  • Determine how this information will influence the assessment of the contaminated site
Provision of Feedback to Participants
  • Prepare letter of thanks to all participants and inform them of how their input was used
  • Follow through with any promises of additional material, analysis, etc.
  • Evaluate public involvement plan
  • Evaluate public involvement activities

3.9 Budget/Resources

For each phase of the public involvement schedule, the budget should reflect the following:

  • the staff who will be responsible for planning and implementing each activity in the plan, and the length of time required to do so;
  • any external resources required to complete any activities (e.g., facilitators, translators, graphic/Web designers, subject matter experts) and their expected contributions; and,
  • any expenses associated with activities (e.g., printing, mailing, room rentals, equipment rentals, honoraria, travel).

A public involvement budget template is included in Table 3.3. This template provides a starting point for gathering the necessary numbers.You can adapt it to fit your particular situation. The annex to Table 3.3 provides some tips on what to consider under each heading, and some information on average rates for common budget items.

3.10 Feedback Mechanisms

This section of the plan should describe how you will provide feedback to the participants in your public involvement activities.

Letting participants know how their input was used to influence a decision, program or policy is a critical component of effective public involvement. Even if you run an excellent process for soliciting input, and carefully incorporate this input into your remediation plan, many of the benefits of public involvement are lost if you do not communicate effectively about what you have done.

Here are just a few examples of ways to provide feedback to stakeholders.

  • Send a thank-you letter to all participants within a short time after the public involvement activity. If possible, explain the results of the consultation and how the input has been, or will be used.
  • Summarize and post the feedback on a Web site (ensure that stakeholders have easy access to the Internet).
  • Write an article for the local community newspaper (ensure that stakeholders have easy access to the publication).
  • Summarize and include the feedback in an issue of your project newsletter (ensure the newsletter is widely distributed).
  • Hold a town hall meeting and explain in person how the input was used.

3.11 Evaluation Plan

This section of the plan should include a complete strategy for evaluating the public involvement aspects of the project.

Evaluation is a critical component of an effective public involvement plan. By focusing on what worked, what didn't, and why, you can add to your department's learning and improve your effectiveness in using public involvement on the next project. Taking evaluation seriously also validates public involvement as a legitimate and reliable part of decision making processes. Furthermore, taking evaluation seriously helps maintain ongoing credibility with the public as it demonstrates a custodial department's commitment to improvement.

It is important that the evaluation framework be developed early on, as part of the overall public involvement plan, so that the public involvement objectives can be effectively measured.

The decision of what aspects of the plan are to be evaluated should reflect the purposes of the particular public involvement plan, but should also be consistent with the custodial department's larger strategy and policies. For example,Treasury Board has requirements for overall evidence-based quality management of policy and program development. Health Canada has a standard evaluation framework, as do many other federal departments.

An evaluation plan should include the following elements:

  • purpose;
  • target audience;
  • objectives;
  • whom to involve;
  • evaluation issues;
  • success indicators;
  • sources of evidence;
  • analysis;
  • communication of results; and,
  • budget.

Note that most of these items are closely related to the key components of the public involvement plan already discussed. For example, the objectives of the evaluation process will be closely tied to the objectives of the public involvement plan; the indicators of success for a given public involvement activity will depend on what tools have been identified for use in that activity.

3.11.1 Purpose

This section should specify the overall purpose of the evaluation process. It should, of course, be informed by the objectives of the public involvement plan itself.

Here are three examples of a purpose statement:

  • Evaluating to identify the lessons learned can inform staff in conducting their next public involvement activity.
  • Evaluating to validate results from a public involvement activity will give the custodial department the confidence to use the results in decision making.
  • Proving department and public satisfaction with a public involvement activity will help to make the business case for public involvement activities in the future.

3.11.2 Target audience

This section should clearly define the intended audience(s) for the evaluation results (e.g., custodial department senior management, politicians, and participants) and their information needs. The choice of audience(s) depends on both the level of public involvement and the purpose of the public involvement activity. Keeping the audience clearly in mind while planning the evaluation process will help make the evaluation more informative, timely and influential.

3.11.3 Evaluation Objectives

Like the objectives for the overall public involvement plan, the evaluation objectives should build on the overall purpose. They should be measurable, and describe what, specifically, you hope to achieve through the evaluation process. The purpose statement examples above might generate objectives that include the following:

  • identifying what percentage of affected and interested stakeholders were reached;
  • determining whether or not stakeholders were able to participate effectively in the activity; and,
  • assessing the degree to which stakeholders understood their role in influencing the decision making process.

3.11.4 Who Should Be Involved

This section should outline who will be involved in planning and carrying out the evaluation. The level of public involvement, the audience for the evaluation results, and the evaluation objectives will all be factors influencing who should be included here, as will the available resources (see also the discussion of budget in section 3.12.10, below). Generally, the more participatory the evaluation, the more resources are required.

Participants are a very important source of feedback for all aspects of the process. It may also be useful to have someone sit in on some planned events to observe how well the process is unfolding. A variety of experts can also be used to provide feedback about your process.

3.11.5 Evaluation Issues

For each objective in the public involvement plan, identify evaluation issues that will help determine what to evaluate. These issues can relate to either process or outcomes.

Evaluation issues about process may include the following:

  • transparency;
  • clear definition of tasks and accountabilities (openness);
  • representativeness;
  • timeliness;
  • equality of participation opportunities; and,
  • adequacy of resources.

Evaluation issues about outcomes include the following:

  • participant satisfaction;
  • learning;
  • capacity building; and,
  • influence on decision making.

3.11.6 Success Indicators

This section of the evaluation plan should specify indicators--statements about what to expect from an activity with respect to an evaluation issue. Indicators relate directly to the evaluation issues. For example, indicators connected to representativeness (one of the process issues identified above) might include the following:

  • The participants are a representative sample of stakeholders;
  • The cross section of participants is balanced in terms of interests and demographics (e.g., culture, language, age, gender);
  • All those with a stake in the issue are involved in the public involvement activity; and,
  • All those who indicated a desire to participate are able to do so.

3.11.7 Sources of Evidence

The plan must also describe the sources of evidence to support the indicators. Using the example of representativeness, sample sources could include:

  • demographic data from, for example, polls and surveys;
  • results of demographics questionnaires from participant groups;
  • list of participants and associations linked to them if appropriate;
  • meeting minutes demonstrating how the target population was identified by interest group;
  • database of participating stakeholders' interests;
  • notes/transcriptions of public involvement sessions; and,
  • interviews with those planning the initiative.

3.11.8 Analysis

In analysing the data collected, you may follow a logical trail that places evidence in the context of the objectives and purpose of the public involvement activity as well as the evaluation:
evidence → indicators → evaluation issue → objective → purpose

Your evaluation plan should describe how you intend to analyse the data.

3.11.9 Communication of Evaluation Results

The final element of the evaluation plan is describing how to prepare and communicate the results. The type of communication depends on the public involvement level used.

3.11.10 Budget

This section should outline the resources available for the evaluation process. The budget will affect how extensive the evaluation can be and how wide a range of groups can be involved. Generally, the initial budget for any public involvement activity should include funds for evaluating it.

To evaluate effectively, you need resources for planning, for data and information collection, for analysing and for the communication of results. Typically, between 5 and 10 percent of a public involvement budget should be dedicated to evaluation.

3.11.11 Other Elements

Additional items that might be useful as part of an evaluation plan include the following:

  • contact information for known individuals or groups;
  • communications plans/key messages;
  • stakeholder lists;
  • lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs); and,
  • glossaries.

These items could be included as boxed text within an evaluation plan or as appendices.

3.11.12 Evaluation Checklist

The checklist in Table 3.4 provides an overview of the most critical questions that should be answered when developing a public involvement evaluation plan.You may adapt this tool to suit your particular circumstances.

Table 3.4: Evaluation Checklist
Evaluation Element Question Examples/Context Answer
Purpose / Objectives

Is the purpose of the evaluation clear?

Has management been involved in development of the evaluation plan?

  • To communicate the results of a public involvement activity
  • To describe effective public involvement initiatives for duplication elsewhere
  • To report to management and stakeholders on the outcome of the public involvement initiative
  • To measure the extent to which the objectives of the public involvement plan have been met
checkbox Yes checkbox No

Management should review both the public involvement and evaluation plans o ensure that:

  • The scope of the plan also meets management needs
  • The evaluation plan fits into broader departmental performance frameworks
checkbox Yes checkbox No
Target Audience Has the audience for the evaluation been determined?
  • Custodial department staff and/or management
  • Other federal departments
  • Provincial/ municipal agencies
  • General public
  • First Nations and Northern communities
  • Other stakeholders
checkbox Yes checkbox No
Objectives Can the objectives of the public involvement plan be measured by the evaluation?
  • Increased stakeholder participation in site management
  • Improvements in effectiveness and efficiency of public involvement mechanisms
  • Verification that the public involvement plan objectives have been met
checkbox Yes checkbox No
Who to Involve Has it been determined whom to involve in the evaluation process?
  • Stakeholders
  • Staff/ employees
  • Other federal department staff/ employees
  • Provincial/ municipal staff/ employees
  • Other(s)
checkbox Yes checkbox No
Evaluation Issues Are the evaluation questions clear?
  • Are they about how a PI activity was implemented ( process evaluation)?
  • Are they about the results of a PI activity (outcomes evaluation)?
checkbox Yes checkbox No
Success Indicators Have success indicators for the objectives been set?

What measurements will be used to determine if objectives have been met? Indicators need to be

  • Feasible
  • Timely
  • Comparable across similar activities
checkbox Yes checkbox No
Sources of Evidence Have you identified the right tools to collect the required information?
  • Surveys following open houses and community meetings
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Site documentation
  • Focus groups
  • Other(s)
checkbox Yes checkbox No
Budget Has a budget to cover the cost of evaluation been set? The evaluation budget should be incorporated into the public involvement plan budget process. checkbox Yes checkbox No
Schedule Has a schedule to gather the required information been set? This schedule should be incorporated into the public involvement plan scheduling process. checkbox Yes checkbox No

4.0 Public Involvement Case Studies at Contaminated Sites

These case studies present some of the many public involvement plans that custodial departments responsible for contaminated sites under FCSAP have developed and implemented since 2003. They provide examples of how the five levels of public involvement can be incorporated into the management of a FCSAP project, and include the range of public involvement strategies described in section 2.1.

For each case study, following information is provided:

  • a background of the biophysical/technical context of each case;
  • an outline of the sociopolitical considerations involved for the case;
  • a description of the range of public involvement approaches and tools used by each custodial department; and,
  • lessons learned from the example.

4.1 14 Wing Greenwood, Department of National Defence

4.1.1 Overview

Figure 4.1: Location of Greenwood, Nova Scotia

Figure 4.1: Location of Greenwood, Nova Scotia

Department of National Defence (DND) is a custodian of 11 of the 57 priority sites that FCSAP is funding through 2003 to 2005, including 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia. (It also manages many contaminated sites not included in the Treasury Board Secretariat's Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory.)

Summary of 14 Wing Greenwood:

Type of Site under FCSAP:
Rural sites (not in the North)

Levels of Public Involvement:
Levels 1 and 2 (Communicating and Listening) Level 3 (Discussing)

Public Involvement Tools Used:
Newspaper article
Informal "kitchen table" meetings
Site tours

4.1.2 Lessons Learned

This case is a successful example of how a straightforward approach to public involvement can yield positive results. It illustrates a number of useful points:

  • A public involvement plan can incorporate a variety of public involvement opportunities with the flexibility to use appropriate tools based on the response from the public.
  • Different levels of involvement can be appropriate for different stakeholders.
  • Community groups can become strong allies when custodial departments demonstrate that stakeholder concerns will be heard and show a willingness to respond to them.
  • Whenever possible, you should support stakeholder participation in the design and implementation of project activities (e.g., assisting in the choice of consultant). The greater the participation, the greater the sense of shared ownership of project decisions.

4.1.3 Background

Located in Greenwood, Nova Scotia (see Figure 4.1), 14 Wing Greenwood is the largest air base on the East Coast of Canada. It contains a collection of contaminated sites known as North Side Lower Zeke's Brook Area (NSLZB). The base was established in 1942 as a Royal Air Force Station and was used as a training base during World War II. In 1968 the station became Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, which is currently home to four operational squadrons.

4.1.4 Biophysical/technical context

The contaminated area at NSLZB is 16.7 hectares. It consists of 15 identified sites that are contaminated in varying degrees, both soil and groundwater, by metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and petroleum hydrocarbons. The contaminated areas include training facilities, storage areas and landfills.

Some of the contamination is likely the result of historical site use by base operations associated with the facilities. Contaminants have also migrated between the sites, which are very close to one another. Zeke's Brook, a tributary of the Annapolis River that empties into the Bay of Fundy, is located approximately 40 metres from the nearest remediation site. A wetland area is located adjacent to the brook. The watershed is habitat for a river-specific subspecies of the endangered Atlantic salmon.

DND began investigating the sites in 1994; by 2002 it had sponsored 44 related reports. In 2003, DND decided to manage the sites as a group because of the migration of contaminants among them. FCSAP provided funds to remediate the site and by 2004 a detailed testing program was underway to determine the extent of the contamination.

A screening-level environmental assessment was begun in February 2004. The study examined potential remediation options for the contaminated soils and groundwater, and identified their potential impacts. These options included excavation of impacted soils, risk management for various sites, and stabilization of areas where required.

4.1.5 Sociopolitical Considerations

The Village of Greenwood has a population of approximately 4,500 people. An additional 2,800 individuals work on the base, some of whom live within the private married quarters on the base--which are located within 250 metres of the NSLZB site and in clear line of sight of the clean-up operation. The entire site is very visible to residents in the surrounding area. Because the base is so close to surrounding residential areas, most of the larger community is familiar with its activities. A public road north of the site leads to the Greenwood Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course.

4.1.6 Public Involvement Techniques and Tools Used

At the start of the environmental assessment, the Wing's environmental officer (project director) and the public affairs officer created a communications plan for the remediation of NSLZB. Designed to provide appropriate communications at local, national and international levels, the plan was very flexible, containing many options that could be implemented depending on the interest expressed by the community and other stakeholders.

To create awareness of the project, the project director arranged to publish an article in the base newspaper before site remediation began. He provided appropriate context and contact information for any interested reader to use. DND distributes the newspaper free within the base and throughout the Annapolis Valley. After the article appeared, a few people approached the project director informally to discuss the matter. The project director personally conducted tours of the NSLZB site. These interactions resulted in effective word-of-mouth sharing of information within the small community.

The project director also discussed the remediation project in depth with local environmental groups such as the Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP). CARP is a community-owned corporation that fosters conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the Annapolis River and its watershed. In particular, CARP was asked to consider options for Riparian zone management. The group provided recommendations for well-respected consultants who would meet their standards for riparian zone management. DND's project director carried these recommendations forward, so that the lead contractor hired consultants in whom CARP had confidence.

DND completed the screening report in October 2004 and determined that the project could proceed, as it would not likely result in adverse environmental effects. However, the report concluded that mitigation measures would be required to address issues related to water and soil quality, terrestrial and aquatic wildlife and human health and safety. Phase 2 of the three-year remediation project is likely to proceed in 2005.

4.2. Giant Mine, Department of Indian Affairs and Nothern Development

4.2.1 Overview

Figure 4.2 - Location of Giant Mine

Figure 4.2 - Location of Giant Mine

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) is responsible for managing 357 contaminated sites across Canada in the Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory. Since it is the custodian of most federal lands across Canada's North, DIAND is accountable through the Northern Contaminated Sites Program for managing contaminated properties that former occupants have abandoned. DIAND's portfolio in this regard came into being as private-sector mining, oil and gas activities, as well as government military activities, ended in the region. Giant Mine in the Northwest Territories is one of these sites abandoned by former private-sector owners.

Summary of Giant Mine:

Type of Site under FCSAP:
Mining sites in the North

Levels of Public Involvement:
Levels 1 through 4 (Communicating, Listening, Discussing and Engaging)

Public Involvement Tools Used:
Technical "expert" workshops Community advisory committee
Open houses/public displays
Public workshops
Newspaper articles (questions and answers) Public meetings
Peer review team
Focus groups
Site tours

4.2.2 Lessons Learned

Throughout this remediation project, the project team has listened carefully to the public and has adapted its public involvement process in response to this input. Lessons learned include the following:

  • It is beneficial to offer, as early as possible in the process, opportunities to increase stakeholder capacity to understand and participate in the process.
  • Custodial departments should strive to involve the public throughout the entire site management process, from identifying the problem, through discussing of alternatives and management options, then assessing and implementing them, and through to follow-up and monitoring.
  • Public involvement plans should be modified throughout the process, based on stakeholder response to ongoing plan evaluation.
  • Peer review teams and community liaison groups can enhance the credibility of the custodial department to manage the process.
  • Stakeholders should have access to technical information in easily understood language and format. Stakeholders also need to have the capacity to understand the information; you may need to support this capacity.

4.2.3 Background

Giant Mine is a gold mine located 5 kilometres north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (see the map in Figure 4.2). Various companies have owned and operated the mine since it was first staked in 1935. In 1948, Frobisher Exploration Company began gold production at the mine. Gold at Giant Mine is found in arsenopyrite ore. To release the gold, the ore has to be roasted at extremely high temperatures. Unfortunately, the roasting process also releases arsenic-rich gas, a highly toxic byproduct. In the early days, much of that arsenic was released directly into the environment via the stack. This situation was rectified in 1951 by installing a Cold Cottrell electrostatic precipitator, which removed much of the arsenic trioxide dust that formed when the cooling roaster gas combined with oxygen.

This arsenic trioxide dust then needed to be put somewhere. Almost all of it was stored in 15 underground chambers and stopes mined-out cavities cut into solid rock. That arsenic trioxide dust remains underground today. Approximately 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust was collected and stored during the extraction of more than 7 million ounces of gold between 1948 and 1999.

In 1999, Royal Oak Mines, the owner of Giant Mine at that time, went into receivership. The court assigned the site to DIAND, which immediately sold the mine to Miramar Giant Mine Ltd. under an agreement that provided for ongoing care and maintenance at the site while allowing Miramar to resume mine operations on a limited capacity. The sale agreement also provided Miramar with indemnification for existing environmental conditions at Giant Mine, including the arsenic trioxide stored underground at the site.

DIAND created the Giant Mine Remediation Project (GMRP). The purpose of this project is twofold: to develop a remediation plan for securing the arsenic trioxide dust stored underground at the site, and to remediate the surface mine facilities and infrastructure. The overriding goal is to ensure that the entire site is managed safely to protect northerners and the environment. GMRP will submit the remediation plan to the appropriate regulatory authorities for review.

4.2.4 Biophysical/technical context

When engineers originally designed the underground storage chambers for the arsenic trioxide dust in the 1950s, they believed that the area's permafrost would work as a natural frozen barrier, sealing in the dust. However, the permafrost started to thaw as a result of ongoing mining activity, with the eventual result that water leaked into some storage chambers, became saturated with arsenic, then leaked into the mine. All of the contaminated water is now collected and treated on site to remove arsenic and other metals before it is released into the environment. DIAND regularly monitors both the mine's water and local surface waters. The underground arsenic trioxide storage chambers and stopes are sealed with thick cement bulkheads (cement "plugs").

4.2.5 Sociopolitical Considerations

Issues associated with Giant Mine are of great concern to local residents because of its proximity to Yellowknife and the Dene communities of Ndilo and Dettah, and its location on the shores of Great Slave Lake. Residents in these communities are concerned about health and environmental effects of the arsenic. They also question whether the arsenic trioxide dust stored underground is safely contained.

A number of community groups have been formed in response to the contamination, starting in 1971 with the first meeting of Ecology North. Nearly 30 years later, the Yellowknife Arsenic Soils Remediation Committee was established to determine potential health risks related to arsenic. This multi-stakeholder group involves governments, community groups, and industry, including the Dene and Métis communities. In part because of the diversity of views this group represents, it has been successful in helping to establish soil testing and develop local remediation criteria for arsenic in industrial, recreational and residential use soils.

4.2.6 Public Involvement Techniques and Tools Used

Since the bankruptcy of Royal Oak Mines in 1999, the Giant Mine Remediation Project Team (GMRPT) has used a variety of tools to involve the public. In 1999, it hosted a technical workshop with representatives from government, community groups and First Nations to review and discuss preliminary management options for arsenic trioxide. The GMRPT has continued to take this approach of engaging stakeholders by hosting numerous workshops with representatives from the various communities, First Nations government agencies and organizations, other government agencies, health authorities, industry, labour organizations, and non-government environmental organizations.

The GMRPT has provided many opportunities for the broader community to learn about various remediation options through open houses and public displays. Among many other communication initiatives, the GMRPT set up a public registry and a project Web site to provide the public with greater access to project documents. To assess participants' awareness and knowledge of the situation at Giant Mine, the GMRPT held a series of scoping sessions in the communities of Ndilo, Dettah and Yellowknife.

In 2001, the GMRPT established the Independent Peer Review Panel (IPRP) to undertake an independent assessment of the technical advisor's report and recommendations (the technical advisor for the project is a group of consultants, with SRK Consulting Inc. as the lead consultant). This panel comprises experts in geotechnical and mineral processing. Key stakeholders were also asked to nominate members of the IPRP. The IPRP was later expanded to include experts in hydrogeology, permafrost, risk assessment, toxicology and public health.

In response to suggestions from a 2001 workshop, the Giant Mine Community Alliance (GMCA) was established in 2003. The GMCA is a community liaison group consisting of ten representatives from the Yellowknife area. Its mandate is to encourage community input and feedback into decisions about the underground arsenic trioxide, surface remediation and future use of the site.

Throughout 2002 and 2003, the GMRPT provided numerous briefings to the Northwest Territories' legislative assembly,Yellowknife city councillors, the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Review Board and the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. The GMRPT also conducted tours of the mine site for these stakeholders, local media and many other interested parties.

Based on the final analysis completed by the technical advisor, and on the feedback from the IPRP, the GMCA and the broader public, the GMRPT selected the frozen block method as the preferred long-term management alternative. In the spring of 2003, the GMRPT began developing the project description portion of the overall remediation plan.

4.3 Belleville Small Craft Harbour, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

4.3.1 Overview

Figure 4.3 - Harbourfront of the City of Belleville

Figure 4.3 - Harbourfront of the City of Belleville

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for managing over 8,500 contaminated sites across Canada. These include coast guard bases, small craft harbours, labs, lighthouses, shorelights, boat sheds and offices. Most sites are small and situated in relatively remote places. DFO currently manages 21 FCSAP sites. One site, Belleville Small Craft Harbour (BSCH), is in an urban area in Belleville, Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Summary of Belleville Small Craft Harbour:

Type of Site under FCSAP:
Site in metropolitan area in the South (urban industrial land and waterlot)

Levels of Public Involvement:
Levels 1 through 5 (Communicating, Listening, Discussing, Engaging and Partnering)

Public Involvement Tools Used:
Steering committee
Public workshops
Resident survey (non-random)
Open houses/response bookletPublic meetings
Peer review team
Web site

4.3.2 Lessons Learned

Since 1990, DFO officials have worked closely with the City of Belleville, leasing lands to the City for recreation and co-operating in studies and assessment processes. The City has undertaken official land-use planning procedures to address waterfront matters, including future land uses. Planning processes have entailed public involvement. From this case study we have learned the following lessons:

  • Expert estimations of risk and of alternatives for remediation and/or risk management may reach dissimilar conclusions. When this happens, decision makers, stakeholders and interested parties may become involved in a delicate process of communication and negotiation about trade-offs.
  • It is important for the custodial department to partner with the prospective owner of the site as early as possible in the FCSAP process so as to build trust and mutual respect for mutual benefit.
  • Stakeholders are interested in participating in future-use planning opportunities.
  • The needs of all partners must be adequately addressed, for example, the federal government's need to address liability issues properly, and the municipality's need to manage the site at an affordable cost.

4.3.3 Background

DFO owns about 160 hectares of land and waterlot at the mouth of the Moira River. The BSCH is the lakefront area east of the Moira. Until 1978,Transport Canada administered these lands and waterlot through the Belleville Harbour Commission. After 1978, the DFO's Small Craft Harbour assumed responsibility.

Industrial enterprises including distilling, quarrying and cement production, as well as fuel storage and distribution, coal gasification and plastics manufacturing operated on the shores and piers of Belleville Harbour. Landfills also operated there for several decades. Unfortunately, the aforementioned activities all contributed to the contamination of the property. Thus, the BSCH contains several significant brownfield sites, including Meyers Pier.

4.3.4 Biophysical and Technical Context

Meyers Piers is about 9 hectares in area. Composed of a harbour and harbour basin formed by a rubble-mound breakwater, it also contains a pier, various wharves, and a landbase element. The landbase emerged in the 1930s and 1940s when municipal and industrial waste, combined with construction rubble, was deposited there, forming a waterfront landfill.

Meyers Pier supplied commercial harbour services for coal storage and oil-tank farms. It is believed that the byproducts of a coal gasification plant that operated from 1854 to 1947 just north of Meyers Pier migrated by an open ditch to the waterfront landfill: "The historic land use practices have resulted in contamination buried within the site, including various heavy metals (e.g., copper, lead and zinc), some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and petroleum hydrocarbons including BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) and total petroleum hydrocarbons." (City of Belleville, 2002, p. 7)

4.3.5 Sociopolitical Considerations

In 1990, the City adopted the Belleville Bayfront Planning Study. This study provided direction for redevelopment and restoration of the entire waterfront. Since then, the City has leased most federally owned properties in Belleville Harbour for park and recreational amenities. DFO has been partnering with the City of Belleville since 1990 to determine what contaminants are present in the BSCH and how they are moving. DFO has sponsored more than ten reports about environmental abatement. DFO's aim is to eventually divest the BSCH properties to the City; the federal government cannot divest itself of property until it addresses liability matters appropriately.

The City of Belleville in 2002 concluded a new official plan that endorses existing industrial land uses along the East Bayshore while paying increased attention to waterfront recreation and tourism. The City envisioned that three planning processes would be required: a concept plan study (on future land uses), a master plan, and a development plan.

In 2002, Ontario's Waterfront Generation Trust and the Ontario Trillium Foundation funded a future-use concept plan study for the City of Belleville to address the eastern portion of its waterfront, including the BSCH. The result was the Belleville's East Bayshore Concept Plan: Final Report. This concept plan study included public involvement activities such as stakeholder meetings, a consultation guide, a discussion document and questionnaire, an open house and a workshop.

With respect to Meyers Pier, the report recommended that "the federal government and the City of Belleville should complete and implement a remediation plan for Meyers Pier and transfer ownership of Belleville Harbour to the City of Belleville." Once ownership has been transferred, it recommends, the City of Belleville should develop a master plan for Meyers Pier Park, co-coordinated with the site remediation plan.

A study of Meyers Pier recommended excavating the contaminated soil and dumping contaminants off site. Estimated costs approached $30 million. Belleville requested a peer review of that study. The peer review team concluded it would be more harmful to excavate the contaminated soils than to leave them in place. It recommended containment and risk management as the preferred approach. Containment would involve using a large plastic membrane covered by more than a metre of topsoil. The cost of the containment and risk management option would be shared 50-50 through an agreement between the federal government and the City.

In a May 2004 press release, Ottawa indicated that DFO would "partner with the City of Belleville to rehabilitate the Belleville Harbour in preparation for the divestiture of the property to the City." The press release further stated that "the multi-year project will begin this spring [2004] with comprehensive public consultation to finalize the remediation design, followed by implementation of the project in phases, likely over a two or three year period. This announcement comes after almost a decade of soils, groundwater and other environmental studies on the harbour property, undertaken jointly by the City and Fisheries and Oceans Canada . . . Site development and engineering plans will be developed with public input and used for detailed costing."

The expected completion date for the master plan is May 2005 and for the development plan, August 2005.

4.3.6 Public Involvement Techniques and Tools Used

The team creating the master plan for Meyers Pier and adjacent areas (as shown in Figure 4.3), for which DFO is a partner at the steering committee level, completed two public involvement activities in 2004: a public workshop on preliminary design and an open house. The City also makes material about the project available on its Web site. In 2005, the master plan team will offer two more open houses: one presenting a number of alternative waterfront concepts and another on the final waterfront concept.

For its part, DFO recently initiated a federal environmental assessment to determine remediation needs. Per CEAA requirements, DFO will involve stakeholders beginning with newspaper ads and open houses. The department will "seek input and ideas, boil down the comments, and feed them back to the public as part of the scoping of project and the Environmental Assessment." Thus the BSCH FSCAAP project remains a work in progress.

5.0 References and Resources

5.1 References

  1. Belleville, City of. 2002. Belleville's East Bayshore: Final Report.
  2. Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. 1992. c37.

  3. Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. 2003. Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: An Overview. Ottawa, ON.
  4. Canadian Environmental Protection Act. 1999. c.33.
  5. Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2004. Press Release. "Vanclief announces plan to implement environmental remediation strategy at Belleville Harbour in Ontario." Ottawa, ON: May 7.
  6. Health Canada. 2000. The Health Canada Policy Toolkit for Public Involvement in Decision Making. Ottawa, ON.
  7. Health Canada. 2004. Addressing Psychosocial Factors Through Capacity Building: A Guide for Managers of Contaminated Sites.Ottawa, ON.
  8. National Orphaned/Abandoned Mines Advisory Committee. 2003. Best Practices in Community Involvement: Planning for and Rehabilitating Abandoned and Orphaned Mines in Canada. Ottawa, ON.
  9. Privy Council Office. 2003. A Framework for the Application of Precaution in Science-Based Decision Making about Risk. Ottawa, ON.
  10. Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. 2001. Government of Canada Policy on Consulting and Engaging Canadians. (Draft for Discussion.) Ottawa, ON.

5.2 Further Reading

5.2.1 Other Public Involvement Resources from Health Canada

Health Canada's Contaminated Sites Division offers several additional resources related to public involvement, including the following:

  1. Addressing Psychosocial Factors Through Capacity Building: A Guide for Managers of Contaminated Sites (2005).

The Contaminated Sites Division has developed training materials based on these documents, and will offer workshops to custodial departments. Other training programs will be added as custodial departments identify the need.

5.2.2 Other Resources

  1. Abelson., J., F. Gauvin, M.P. MacKinnon and J. Watling. 2004. Transparency,Trust and Citizen Engagement:What Canadians Are Saying About Accountability. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Policy Research Network.
  2. Beierle,T.C. 1998. "Public Participation in Environmental Decisions:An Evaluation Framework Using Social Goals." (Discussion Paper 99-06). Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.
  3. Beierle,T.C. and J. Cayford. 2002. Democracy in Practice: Public Participation in Environmental Decisions. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.
  4. Canadian Standards Association. 1996. A Guide to Public Involvement. Etobicoke, ON.
  5. Council of Science and Technology Advisors. 2003. Science Communications and Opportunities for Public Engagement. Ottawa, ON.
  6. Industry Canada. 2000. A Framework for Science and Technology Advice: Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Use of Science and Technology Advice in Government Decision Making. Ottawa, ON.
  7. International Association for Public Participation. 2001. Public Participation Toolbox. Denver, CO.
  8. Leech, David J. 2001. A Generic Evaluation Framework for Public Involvement Initiatives. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Policy Research Networks.
  9. Privy Council Office. Communications and Consultation Secretariat. 1993. A Practical Guide to Public Consultation. Ottawa, ON.
  10. Privy Council Office. 1992. Consultation Guidelines for Managers in the Federal Public Service. Ottawa, ON. Sandman, P.M. 1993.
  11. Responding to Community Outrage: Strategies for Effective Risk Communication. Fairfax,VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Appendix A: List of Acronyms

BSCH: Belleville Small Craft Harbour

CBSA: Canadian Border Services Agency

CEAA: Canadian Environmental Assessment Act/Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

CSMWG: Contaminated Sites Management Working Group

DIAND: Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

DND: Department of National Defence

EA: Environmental Assessment

ESA: Environmental Site Assessment

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

FCSI: Federal Contaminated Sites Inventory

FSCAP: Federal Contaminated Site Action Plan

GMCA: Giant Mine Community Alliance

GMRP: Giant Mine Remediation Project

IPRP: Independent Peer Review Panel

NOAMI: National Orphaned/Abandoned Mines Initiative

NSLZB: North Side Lower Zeke's Brook Area

PCO: Privy Council Office

PWGSC: Public Works and Government Services Canada

TBS: Treasury Board Secretariat

TCT: Transport Canada

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