The following is a speech Councillor Dave Lane gave at the December 2, 2013 regular meeting of Council:
Today I’m excited to announce an important milestone for public engagement in the City of St. John’s. The citizens of St. John’s have been ready for engagement for a number of years now, and City Hall is ready to take a lead role.
The City of St. John’s is interested in building a new approach to public engagement. One that facilitates dialogue with the right people, using the right tools, at the right time, on issues we all care about.
For the past several years, City Hall has been enhancing its communication resources. We have hired communication and engagement specialists and created a department dedicated to public engagement. Many of the City’s strategies - including Roadmap 2021, the Municipal Plan, Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan, among others - are already using tools that prove the City can engage the public effectively, to the benefit of all.
Over the next year, the City will work with the public to develop a toolbox to guide our ongoing public engagement process. We’ll start by engaging the public right off the bat, creating a Public Engagement Facebook Forum and a Public Engagement Task Force that will ask “How would you like the City of St. John’s to engage?”
We’ll also look internally - right here at City Hall - at how we already engage and how we can do it better. We’ll determine a corporate-wide engagement strategy to ensure we truly internalize “engagement” as a core value at City Hall.
Our Engagement Framework is a long-term project. We will sustain it with regular evaluations and check-ins, making adjustments where required, giving updates to council, and celebrating our successes along the way.
What we’re hoping to achieve is this: improved decision making; the creation of a space for ALL citizens to feel involved and listened to; new ideas and solutions that can be owned by the City and stakeholders; and increased trust and understanding between City Hall and citizens.
I’m looking forward to working closely with council and staff to implement this strategy, and agree with the Mayor who said “If we’re going to do this, I want it to be the best in Canada.”
It won’t always be easy, but if we do it right - which I’m confident we will - this will be an enjoyable community-building experience that will lead to a sustained, prosperous city that lives up to the incredible potential we all know it has.
On behalf of my co-chair, Councillor Tilley, and the entire standing committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Public Engagement, I ask that council approve this important step toward a Framework for Public Engagement in the City of St. John’s.
Read the two-page Engagement Scoping Document PDF