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As the Council Initiative on Public Engagement draws to a close, learn more about the process of how we got here.

Learn about how the City of Edmonton is transforming the way we include community input in our decision making.
Meet the community members who participated in the Phase 2 Working Groups and Advisory Committee of the Council Initiative on Public Engagement!

Process Updates & Reporting Back

January

Public Information Sessions

In February, public information sessions were held to provide the community an update on the Council Initiative's achievements and what to expect as we move forward.

These sessions also gave Edmontonians an opportunity to see how the Council Initiative’s work will form the basis of a renewed framework for engagement at the City, including the foundation of the policy that will be going forward to City Council for approval later this spring.

2016

November - Phase 2 Interim Update Report

As the work of the Council Initiative on Public Engagement continues, each of the five Working Groups have been focused on achieving the goals and objectives of their actions plans. And their work will help form the basis of a strategy that will go to City Council for policy approval in spring 2017.

This is outlined in our Phase 2 Interim Update report on the Council Initiative’s progress and achievements from the beginning of Phase 2 in fall 2015 up until now, with an outline of what’s to come on the horizon in the spring.

On November 19, an All Working Groups Assembly was held at the Shaw Conference Centre where representatives from each Working Group gave presentations on their progress. Next steps were also discussed, where the Council Initiative’s forthcoming strategy will help lay the foundation for renewed public engagement practices at the City into the future.

September

City of Edmonton Leads the Way!

During the summer, the Advisory Committee and five working groups of the Council Initiative on Public Engagement (CIPE) continued implementing their action plans as they head into the final stages of their work.

One of the most unique and exciting outcomes from the collaborative work of community members and City staff has been the revision of the public engagement continuum, with the removal of ‘inform’ from the slate of public engagement options. This does not mean providing information is not important in public engagement; it is in fact a foundational element of communication to ensure participants are well informed. However, it reinforces that public engagement must have a two-way component and a direct link to decision-making.

Additional developments include the approval of a new vision for the City’s renewed approach for public engagement, along with a new definition and set of guiding principles as follows.

Vision: A city where we are connected, invested and proud to participate in shaping our community.

Public engagement definition: “Public engagement creates opportunities for people to contribute to decisions about Edmonton’s policies, programs and services, and communicates how public input is collected and used.”

All of this will be guided by the following principles:

A shared responsibility - Engagement of people in an authentic way contributes to robust solutions to challenging issues, and encourages participation that supports democratic decision-making.

Relationship-building and perspective seeking - Meaningful engagement values local perspectives and community experiences; it recognizes that respect and equitable processes foster trust and stronger relationships.

Proactive, timely, and transparent - People have enough time and notice to engage early in the process, which enables considered input and impact on decision-making. How input will be assessed and used is clearly communicated during engagement, and reported on afterwards.

Inclusive and accessible - Engagement planning and delivery is inclusive and accessible to best serve our city by encouraging two-way conversations and strategies that reach diverse communities, and ensure people feel heard and know their input is valued.

Innovative and continuously improving - As Edmonton grows and evolves, we aspire to co-create and embrace new and better engagement processes, tools and tactics based on a sound approach to evaluating success.

Through this work, the City of Edmonton is leading the way in redefining the terms of public engagement and undergoing a significant transformation at a culture level with regards to how the City approaches public engagement now and into the future.

June

The City sends a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to Phase 1 and 2 of the Council Initiative on Public Engagement and for your contribution in transforming public engagement in Edmonton.

Working Group Photo

A few of the 80 volunteers (City staff and community members) involved in the five working groups

Phase 2 was launched in late 2015 with the creation of an Advisory Committee made up of City staff and community members, created to guide the Council Initiative. Also, five working groups consisting of residents and City employees were established to address the five strategic areas of focus identified in the Phase 1 through engagement with over 1,000 Edmontonians.

One can not overstate the passion and commitment that City staff and community members are bringing to their work. Although there is a clear focus on tangible outcomes, the process of City staff and community members working together is an example of the public engagement transformation we are working towards.

An example of the work underway to redefine the City-Citizen collaboration in public engagement is the ‘public engagement continuum’ being developed by the Vision, Framework and Policy Working Group. Candid discussion emerged as the group developed a visual aid to describe the different types of public engagement and the overall aspirations in Edmonton.

Together City staff and community members crafted options for a continuum that elevates the importance of clear communication, relationship development, leadership and capacity building throughout public engagement. The goal of the continuum and visual aid is to provide a useful tool for both the City of Edmonton and community members to understand the processes of public engagement, and the different types.

Engagement Shifts

Breathe: Green Network Strategy

Breathe: Green Network Strategy is a transformative strategy for ensuring that each neighbourhood will continue to be supported by a network of open space as the city grows. And it also showcases some of the transformative cultural shifts that have taken place at the City already when it comes to public engagement. Engaging early with citizens before decisions are made was identified as a priority through the Council Initiative’s work, and was demonstrated on this project. In addition, the “street knowledge” of affected citizens and stakeholders is being tapped and people are being engaged where they are (that is, the City coming to them) as part of the process. The opportunities provided to citizens for engaging with the City were diversified and also tailored to some groups (for example, newcomers and low-income populations) to ensure their voices were heard.

Edmonton Insight Community

The Edmonton Insight Community was launched in 2014 for the purpose of providing an easy, convenient way for citizens to provide input on a range of civic issues. It is an inclusive, accessible online citizen panel comprising a diverse group of Edmontonians giving feedback on City policies, initiatives and issues. And with close to 7,000 community members, it is helping to redefine the citizen-government relationship while providing an example to other municipalities of what can be achieved. This summer, the City was announced as a finalist for the 2016 Customer Experience Visionary Award from Vision Critical for our work on the Edmonton Insight Community. And the awards were presented this month at the Customer Intelligence Summit in Chicago.

Elevate 101 Ave Vision & Corridor Study

The Elevate 101 Ave Vision & Corridor Study came about as a result of the Greater Hardisty Community Sustainability Coalition (GHCSC) engaging with various groups to determine how they can manage change, decline and development in their neighbourhoods. And this discussion included developing a vision for 101 Ave, which is the main commercial corridor in the area. Public open houses held in the spring and fall of this year had over 200 participants. At the first public meeting in June, residents were asked what they wanted for the corridor and engaged in mind mapping activities where they shared their values, principles and ideas. In September, residents were then provided the opportunity to provide their feedback on a draft vision, goals and strategies for making 101 Ave a more vibrant and welcoming destination. This involved the City and community working together towards a common purpose where relationship-building and open communication formed the foundation of the engagement process earlier on in the project.

Infill

Infill has been a controversial topic amongst Community residents and City Staff. It is not an easy task to balance the privacy needs of residents with the growing demand for central and affordable housing.  Moving theory into practice, Senior Planners with the Sustainable Development Branch of City Planning pursued a new approach that proved to have fantastic results! Read the article on new rules for Edmonton row houses  in the Edmonton Journal that discusses this shift.

Lewis Farms Facility & Park

January 2017 Update

The Lewis Farms Facility and Park public engagement process came to a close this fall. Following public and stakeholder events in spring 2016, which provided opportunities to  review and offer feedback on concept design options, a Setting the Direction open house and online survey was held in October. Participants were shown how their earlier input in the engagement process helped shape the draft schematic design.

For each of the individual engagements, the project team received positive feedback from participants, especially with regards to the knowledgeable staff who were available at public engagement events to answer questions and have more in-depth and meaningful conversations with community members about their values and desires for the facility and park. In addition to an evaluation at each phase of engagement, based on a recommendation from the Office of Public Engagement, the project team also asked participants to share what their experience had been with the engagement from start to finish. Feedback was largely positive and participants appreciated having many opportunities and avenues (in person and online) to provide input, seeing the results of feedback reflected in the design, and transparency in decision making.

Based on the public feedback and internal City staff reviews, the final schematic design will be approved this month, following the development of a cost estimate to be provided to City Council.


The Lewis Farms Facility and Park development is a project where staff in the City’s Facility and Landscape Infrastructure Branch decided to pilot the newly developed guiding principles from the Council Initiative on Public Engagement’s work. Through this, they developed some inventive ways to engage citizens during the first two phases of the consultation process, which included creating an interactive video for telling the project’s story and bringing Rapid Fire Theatre in to facilitate conversations at the public events. This resulted in City staff using the input from over 2,000 participant responses to meaningfully contribute to the next planning stages. The final phase of the engagement process will be taking place in early October.

Mature Neighbourhood Overlay (MNO)

Mature Neighbourhood Overlay (MNO) has been a part of the zoning bylaw, since 2001, that addresses development in older communities. With the influx of development in mature neighbourhoods, the MNO is undergoing a review, with the aim to improve it as a tool for shaping redevelopment in mature areas. Adhering to the Council Initiative’s call for more diversity with whom the City engages, the MNO review has reached beyond engaging typical stakeholders and involved multicultural groups, faith groups, new Canadians, youth and seniors. And is another example of the City engaging early on in the process before decisions have been made.

For More Information

Claire Ashton

Title Council Initiative on Public Engagement
Telephone 780-442-5179
Email councilinitiativeonpublicengagement@edmonton.ca

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