Citizen engagement through a residents’ panel
A Residents’ Panel was created to increase stakeholder involvement, introduce the Kalasatama–Pasila tramway project to citizens in a more inclusive way and obtain their feedback. The panel comprises people living in the areas affected by the new tramway project. The goal is to increase stakeholder involvement, as well as acceptance and understanding of the project. In addition, proactive identification of residents’ concerns helps to mitigate possible problems in advance. The issues identified in the panel meetings can be addressed by means such as targeted communications, environmental monitoring and impact assessment. Different neighbourhoods are represented equally.
Description of practice
A Stakeholder Questionnaire in October–November 2020 was followed by two panel meetings:
● The theme of the first meeting was getting to know each other. It mapped out panel members’ points of interest and gave them a detailed presentation on the project.
● The second meeting discussed the recently approved street plans.
● In both meetings, panel members were encouraged to bring their own topics or ideas to the common discussion. At the end of each meeting, members can propose topics for the next meeting’s agenda.
Who is involved
The Residents’ Panel for the Kalasatama Pasila Project was formed in November 2020. The panel members were chosen based on the Stakeholder Questionnaire conducted in October–November 2020.
The Communications Team of the Kalasatama–Pasila Project is responsible for making arrangements for and facilitating the meetings. Each meeting has a unique focus. Other participants from the project include managers, designers and other experts.
Promotion and communication
The Stakeholder Questionnaire was published on the project’s website, (www.kalasatamastapasilaan.fi) and promoted through the project’s social media channels. The panel members are invited to the meetings via e-mail. Meeting notes are sent to panel members after each meeting. Ideas and suggestions from the meeting are communicated internally to project managers and designers.
A successful Residents’ Panel requires commitment from project management and sufficient communication resources. No specific tools are needed.
The first meeting took place in February 2021. The panel will meet approximately four times a year or as needed until the end of 2024.
|Level of participation||
|Urban planning challenge(s) tackled||Governance and institutional factors
Knowledge and skills
● Timing is crucial when establishing a residents’ panel. Many panel members would have been willing to comment on design solutions but the project was already in the construction phase. The panel members have had no influence on design, but more on mitigating the disturbance that the project will cause.
● Good insights are expected on how the disturbances caused by construction in the built environment affect daily living in an area.
● The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the meetings were held online. Live meetings are better and provide a more equal set-up.
● The panel members see the Residents’ Panel as a good way to get involved in a project. Small things are important; even if it is not possible to affect the design, the feeling of being involved is still valuable.
● Through the panel, how the residents feel about the project can be made clear.