The City is planning a new community engagement program and is working with a group of residents and members from Council to develop the program which will consist of four engagement sessions over the course of one year. After the year is up, the results and feedback from the sessions will be reviewed and recommendations will be brought to Council.
The Community Engagement Task Force, members of City Council and staff held the first session of the Public Engagement Pilot Program on Thursday, November 23 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
The theme for the evening was, "Building Nanaimo for the Future: What are your priorities?" and it centred around what residents think are priorities for the community moving forward. This session was facilitated by Vancouver Island University's Director of Master of Community Planning program, Pam Shaw and students of the program.
Tell us what you want to talk about!
Residents could submit topics that fell under the theme to the Notes section of the City's Facebook page, by email, phoning it in or filling out a form in the November 9 and 16 editions of the Nanaimo News Bulletin. The most-submitted topics were brought to the session where the participants voted for five to be discussed that evening. The remaining topics will be used to determine future engagement sessions. The topics discussed were:
- Social Issues
- Downtown Revitalization
- Community Engagement
There was also a wild card table featuring discussions on a variety of topics. A transcription of the notes taken is available on the Task Force's page. The video below wraps up the evening's discussions.
An Open Space Technology format was used for the session. This format revolves around the concept of people-driven conversations and solutions to complex issues. Participants decide what they want to talk about and the agenda is determined democratically at the beginning of the session.
The second session was held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm in the Beban Park Social Centre. It featured a "Micro Town Hall" format which gave residents the opportunity to sit at a table with a member of Council, ask a question and have a discussion around that question.
The purpose of the session was to build relationships between citizens and elected officials as well as to encourage engagement between citizens on topics of their choosing.
Here's how it worked:
- Residents sat at a table with one member of council.
- Residents came prepared with up to 3 questions they would like to ask members of Council.
- At each table, residents had 1 minute to ask their question and the member of Council had 2 minutes to respond. If other people at the table wished to contribute to that discussion, an additional 5 minutes were allowed for this collective participation before the next person was able to ask their question. A faciltator and time keeper were at each time to keep track of time and ensure conversations stayed on topic and were respectful.
- When instructed by the night's facilitator, the member of Council moved to a different table and the questions began again.
- One table was livestreamed on the City's Facebook Page (see video below) so residents who were unable to attend could participate online.
The third session was held on Saturday, July 28, 2018 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm in the Oliver Woods Community Centre. It featured a "Collaborative Action Process" with the purpose to demonstrate a collaborative type of community engagement where residents partner with the city in developing a strategy or action plan to meet an issue of importance to Nanaimo. Prior to the session, the task force reached out to residents to determine what topic they would like to dive into. The most submitted topic was homelessness.
The session began with a panel of speakers from the community bringing their perspective on the topic of homelessness:
- Signy Madden, Executive Director, United Way
- Penny Richards, Flying Fish, Commercial Street
- Jacquie Howardson, Downtown Neighbourhood Resident
- Aimee Chalifoux, Youth Worker
- Kayla Lilledahl, Tenant Support Worker, Pacifica Uplands Walk Supportive Housing
- Bob Christienson, Tenant, Pacifica Uplands Walk
After that, participants reflected on what they just heard in small facilitated group discussions. Then, they worked together on identified themes around the issue of homelessness to solve the problem, "How do we increase understanding and move towards action?"
Homelessness is a divisive topic and one of the goals of this session was to try to find some commonalities we share so we can work together as a community to take action. To guide participants through this topic was facilitator, Dyan Dunsmoor-Farley of Wave Consulting Ltd.
To help participants prepare for the session, the following resources were made available:
The panel portion of the session was livecast on the City's Facebook page. The video below captures the panel portion and the end where each group reported back their discussion and action items.
The final session in the pilot program focused on building relationships between Council and neighbourhoods.
The need to strengthen neighbourhood associations as a means of encouraging citizen representation in the engagement process was one of the recommendations made by participants at the first Pilot Project Session held by the Task Force in November 2017. The goal of organizing this final session geographically around neighbourhoods was to provide an opportunity for a diverse group of residents of each neighbourhood to identify the issues of concern to them and find commonalities across neighbourhoods. It also provided members of the new Council an opportunity to more fully understand needs at a neighbourhood level.
Facilitated by Larissa Cozer with moderators from the Young Professionals of Nanaimo, the session involved round table discussions organized by neighbourhoods where attendees had the opportunity to meet members of the new Council, share what they love about their neighbourhood, identify issues of concern and work together on solutions.
Community Engagement section on Facebook
Community Engagement Task Force Information Page