Hear ye, hear ye


  1. This is a really fabulous post about the opportunities and possibilities of talking to people in communities in ways that really matter to them – and make a difference to decision-making. Our team at http://www.dialoguepartners.ca led the work on the City of Calgary budget engagement process noted above, and we also were responsible for the online questioning in the City of Regina. It is nice to see this kind of work showcased as good work, and we’re honoured you think it was a worthwhile example. I tend to think that Advisory and Standing Committees are engagement tools that are about validating or refining almost made decisions – there are so many other ways to gather input to shape those decisions in a way that brings a community together and builds something better than it was before. I love the tag line for your blog – Better discussion. Better ideas. Better city. Enormous possibilities – good luck and keep up the good work!

    • redheadsteph,

      Thanks for your visit and the work you’ve done! It sounds like the consultation process was interesting from your end as well. How did you find it developing buy-in with city governments and citizens into the process? Were cities on-board early on, or did it take some convincing to consider your process as part of their decision-making?

      Your point about committees being tools to validate rather than to brainstorm ideas is well-put. There’s a time and place for different levels of consultation – for example, public involvement on decisions that mostly depend on existing legislation or expert guidance (eg traffic signalling) may be simply FYIs.

      Another angle is that, when committees are forced to vote immediately then and there on a topic, or find that their decision-making is constrained to yes/no answers because of process or legislation, or that issues are complicated by technical details, discussion is limited. If committees focused on big-picture policy setting, and delegated details to professional staff, it might improve how public input influences outcomes. What do you think? Are there ways for committees/councils to be restructured so they emphasise work on the big picture rather than get lost trying to micromanage?

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