A Chance to Get Engaged

With the City, not to it.

Did you know the City has a Public Engagement Task Force? Yes, they do! I have been a member of this task force since it began meeting in early 2015 to investigate and make recommendations for the City to shape the way they engage with the public.

A task force is different than a committee in that it is brought together for the express purpose of investigating something or developing a single project and is then disbanded. Many committees continue to meet in perpetuity.

I have enjoyed my PETF meetings – the members are creative, intelligent, and inspiring community leaders, along with a number of City employees who work in an engagement capacity (such as communications or planning) frequently. Our conversations are insightful and exciting and I feel like we are really getting meaningful work done that will help connect residents to the City better.

We’ve looked at what other municipalities are doing where residents say they feel very well connected to their city, and we’ve looked at some very neat, innovative ideas.

Whenever I attend open houses or public meetings, it’s often the same group of people who seek out information and provide input. Many City projects will have an impact on lots of other groups and residents, and it’s really important that the City have a way to seek those people out and make sure they are well informed and engaged. In the long run, having a better sense of engagement will be good for our community.

The task force is nearing the end of our work, and we’ve been collaborating with the SFU Centre for Dialogue to produce a concrete framework, standards, and tactics for the various City departments to utilize going forward.

But it wouldn’t work for the public engagement task force to not engage with the public about our ideas, now would it?

People TalkingSo there’s a workshop planned – May 7th at Century House at 620 8th Street – and you’re invited to attend one of two dialogue sessions and give your input. This input will be invaluable in the way the task force makes our recommendations to council and I hope you can find 90 minutes to come by, especially if you think the City could do a better job with how they engage with you.

  • Session 1: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
  • Session 2: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Food and refreshments will be provided and child minding will be available (please request when registering). Childminding is actually one of the things we’ve heard with our surveys that makes a difference as to whether people can attend. See? The City does listen!

You do need to reserve your seat before May 1st. Registration is through Eventbrite at engagement-workshop.eventbrite.ca. For info you can check out the page on the City’s website, or call 604-521-3711.

Note: As fun as it might be to have a beer when discussing public engagement, the photo above is a stock image, and should not be taken as a representation of what you might expect to find at the City’s event on May 7th. Though if that’s what you think it will take to get more people out to stuff in the future, don’t be afraid to suggest that! 

Jen Arbo

Jen Arbo is the editor and co-publisher of Tenth to the Fraser. She's been writing for the site since 2007 and lives in Sapperton with her family. A project manager at heart, she also operates Hyack Interactive, a digital communications company. Find her on Twitter or Instagram.

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