In Oak Bay we need to renew our participation infrastructure to recognize citizen capacity and our collective problem-solving potential. This means that we need to support regular opportunities for people to connect with each other, solve problems, make decisions, and celebrate our community. And this is for all kinds of people and all kinds of matters. Let’s change the culture of engagement in Oak Bay!
There are a host of new processes, formats and structures for engaging our public— face-to-face deliberations, convenient digital tools, and online networks can add dexterity to the power of face-to-face relationships.
In July 2018 Council received the The Public Engagement Task Force Report (which I
Chaired) that provides a framework, as well as themes, methods and techniques to engage our community. There are also 56 recommendations (see pp. 6-10) and the next Council will work with staff to identify and prioritize some strategies to create a robust engagement infrastructure in Oak Bay.
What might this look like for Oak Bay? Here’s some ideas that can be found in the Report:
- Introduce “Council Highlights” to communicate the decisions of Council within 72 hours of meeting
- Invest in the website to make it more intuitive and information-search friendly.
- Introduce a household electronic and/or print newsletter.
- Increase use of social media, including visuals and paid or promoted ads, to highlight upcoming meetings, events, and surveys
- Revise notification requirements, such as “tree removal” signage, demolition notifications, street and sidewalk permits, event notifications, and development permits.
- Consider online application tracking or Placespeak-type subscriber notification system for land-use applications in Oak Bay.
- Neighborhood conversations on high impact topics.
- Clarify expectations for third parties (e.g. property developers, private contractors, event organizers) for public notification, and public engagement activities that will inform Council decision-making.
- Strive to exceed minimum legislated requirements for notification, providing greatest notification possible.
- Introduce a checklist of minimum standards for engagement activities (e.g. notification periods, formats offered, accessibility requirements, information provided, etc.).
You may have your own ideas. Please feel free to share.