Laval using online platform to consult on urban plan revisions

City’s ‘virtual open house’ consultation will continue until Nov. 15

With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting public gatherings, the City of Laval launched a new kind of public consultation process last Monday on its urban planning rules using a computerized platform to stage a “virtual open house.”

Urban plan revision

The City of Laval is holding an online consultation until Nov. 15 on planned revisions to its master urban plan.

Over the past few years, the city has been involved in the massive undertaking of revising and harmonizing By-Law L-2000, the name of the comprehensive set of municipal regulations that define every aspect of urban planning in Laval.

The city wants to include residents in the revision process as much as possible, hence the purpose of the virtual online consultation.

Since 2019, the city has held several information meetings as well as some preliminary discussions with residents in preparation for a major consultation to be held in the spring of 2021. The virtual “open house” consultation will continue to be available online until Nov. 15.

Regulations simplified

“The new regulations will be based on best practices in urban planning, the most important of which and the one that inspired us the most is form-based code,” Thierry Basque-Gravel, an urban planning expert with the City of Laval, said during a recent Zoom presentation of the platform for the media, while noting that the method prioritizes the form of neighbourhoods rather than uses.

The new regulations will be based on best practices in urban planning, the most important of which and the one that inspired us the most is form-based code

municipal urban planner Thierry Basque-Gravel

According to Basque-Gravel, the consultation platform will maximize the use of illustrations to simplify concepts, while using plain language that is more familiar to ordinary people to make technical jargon better understood. He said the new regulations will place emphasis on the creation of living environments, as well as neighbourhoods built for people, so that their scale is appropriate and in keeping with what residents expect.

A major revision

The scope of the revision of the city’s master urban plan might best be understood knowing that such a vast undertaking has only been done twice in Laval’s history: in 1970, when the city was just five years old, and in 1989.

All the same, the plan has been amended more than 3,000 times over the past 50 years, although most Laval residents have found L-2000 frustratingly complex in its highly precise legalistic language when they have tried to interpret it for a specific problem regarding a property or a zoning issue.

Pandemic’s impact

Diane Durand, a communications and citizen participation specialist with the City of Laval, said the city had to develop the online consultation platform when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring made it impossible to hold in-person gatherings.

“The goal was to allow citizens to have an experience the same as they would have with a regular open house, while allowing us to gather their opinions and views on the future regulations,” Durand said. The online consultation can be found on the web at