The Canadian City of Vancouver has launched a new digital engagement platform – Shape Your City Vancouver – an online platform for residents to share ideas and feedback with the city by asking a question, submitting an idea, voting on others’ ideas, or pinning a comment on a map. It plans to hold an initial four virtual open houses which will allow residents to give their opinions on proposed rezoning applications and how a property or area can be used or developed.

The virtual open houses will temporarily replace in-person open houses. They will provide a three-week open period for the public to ask questions. City staff will have two business days in which to respond and also will post their responses publicly. A comment form is available on the Shape Your City website. Rezoning planners will also be available by telephone to share project information and answer questions, for those who do not wish to go online.

Earlier this year, the city asked members of the community to share their thoughts on engagement during Covid-19. The majority of respondents said they are in favor of virtual engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic and most said they were likely to participate.

“We’re going from holding a single event where staff shares information with individuals one-on-one, to having a longer online Q & A with city staff and all content, slides, and modelling available,” said Gil Kelley, general manager of planning, urban design and sustainability, at the City of Vancouver. “This new format provides many accessibility benefits and we’re excited to provide the public with a more interactive, convenient, and informative way to participate in our decision-making.”