Exploring, Understanding, and Determining the Quality of Plan Monitoring and Evaluation in Ontario
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Planning takes place in the context of diverse stakeholder interests and complex decision-making processes. Planning activities are often complicated by a range of factors: increasing pressure on municipalities with ageing populations and infrastructure; the downward transfer of responsibilities from higher levels of government to lower ones; budget and resource constraints; increasing pressure on the provision of infrastructure services; political change; climate change and environmental issues; urban sprawl and gentrification; and limited availability of skilled labor. These factors have intensified the challenge of making sound and optimal decisions that consider the interests of diverse stakeholders. To improve decision-making, planners invest significant resources in the creation of plans and policies. It thus becomes important to consider whether planning decisions and interventions align with the visions, goals, objectives, and targets crafted within these plans. Plan monitoring and evaluation helps to track the performance of planning actions and considers the alignment of these actions with pre-defined goals, objectives, and targets. A significant amount of research has investigated the efficacy of plan monitoring and evaluation; this research has determined that monitoring and evaluation remains an undervalued or forgotten step of the planning process. A mixed-methods research approach was adopted to explore the efficacy and quality of various plans and reports in terms of plan monitoring and evaluation. A combination of qualitative review and content analysis exercises determined that the overall quality of the plans and reports with regard to monitoring and evaluation is quite far from the ideal plan monitoring and evaluation practice defined by the literature. A set of parameters deemed important for high-quality plans and reports was identified as part of the literature review. Using these parameters, the plans and reports were analyzed (quantitatively). It was observed that all the municipalities being investigated do engage in monitoring and evaluation, but to different degrees with some municipalities demonstrating closer alignment with the principles of ideal monitoring and evaluation practice than others. Almost all the municipalities investigated consider monitoring and evaluation to be necessary activities, but more work needs to be done to integrate plan monitoring and evaluation into the plan-making process to ensure that these practices are considered as part of the design and drafting of plans. Findings also indicate that provincial mandates have implications for how municipalities perceive monitoring and evaluation. These findings point to the need for fundamental guidance from the Province regarding plan monitoring and evaluation. Further, it was observed that lack of plan monitoring and evaluation can be attributed to less visible factors including organizational attitudes, political realities, and awareness and education among existing and future planners. Thus, it is crucial to define the role of professional institutions like CPI and OPPI, the role of education institutions such as universities, and the role of ministry and provincial planners with regard to awareness-raising, education, and capacity building. Finally, there is an urgent need to educate planners and enhance their capacity to improve the current state of plan monitoring and evaluation.
Cite this version of the work
Avinash Soni (2021). Exploring, Understanding, and Determining the Quality of Plan Monitoring and Evaluation in Ontario. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17173