MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Horak, Martin

Geographical Areas

London, Ontario, British Columbia


This paper assesses the extent to which Rethink London exemplifies the tenets of collaborative planning. Rethink London was an innovative, community driven approach to planning whose main objective was to collaboratively engage the London community in creating a shared vision for urban development. The assessment was done using the process criteria focusing on issues such as equal opportunities and resources, inclusive representation, self design, independent facilitation, effective process management, voluntary participation and commitment, accountability, high quality information, purpose and incentives and clear ground rules. These factors were operationalised into concrete interview questions that were used to collect data through semi-structured interviews with local political leaders, community leaders and municipal officials. Primary data was complemented by documentary analysis of Rethink London secondary material including reports and discussion papers.

Rethink London was a complex planning exercise with multiple and often conflicting interests. In such circumstances, it is impractical to design a process that satisfy all the ideals and principles of collaborative planning. Despite the power imbalances and conflicting priorities, Rethink London performed well. It created opportunities to include majority of the interested stakeholders in shaping the future of London’s development planning. This was done through an appropriate mix of methods of participation which were designed to meet the differing capacities of participants. Given the complexity of a city-wide planning project, the paper recommends that careful consideration must be taken in process design. The process criteria should be viewed in an integrated manner for the best benefits of CP to be realised.