The City of Victoria has a new foundation for improving the way it engages citizens in civic matters.
Foundations for Success: A Strategy to Improve Civic Engagement at the City of Victoria was recently endorsed by Victoria City Council, making Victoria one of few municipalities in the Province of British Columbia to develop a municipal engagement strategy.
The City asked for input into how the City can best engage the community in civic matters. The feedback received from the community highlighted six challenges for engagement in the City of Victoria and over sixty supporting recommendations to assist the organization in improving customer service and engagement practice. Staff are now preparing a two-year project charter outlining how these challenges will be addressed through the implementation of over 60 new policies and tools. Further consultation and dialogue will occur on many of these items.
One of the most important jobs a municipality has is to ensure its citizens know how their tax dollars are spent and how to access the many services available to them. We live in one of the best communities in the world and we are extremely fortunate to receive some of the highest quality municipal services in Canada. Yet we often hear that our citizens aren't aware of what the municipality offers or don't understand how they can get involved in issues that concern them.
The City of Victoria developed a Civic Engagement Strategy to identify how we can better communicate and connect with our citizens.
We accomplished this by research, analysis and by asking you the following questions: When was the last time you attended a meeting at City Hall? What motivated you to do so? What would encourage you to be more involved in your community, and City decision-making? And are there ways you would like to hear from us that the City hasn't yet explored?
We held focus groups and a public ideas fair, interviewed stakeholders, provided a workbook to spark discussion, and hosted an online board called Ideascale to hear how the community would like to see the City improve how it engages Victoria citizens. The draft strategy was available for public review and comment and the final report was revised based on those comments.
Staff and Council are continuing to learn what works best when consulting the community, and what the best techniques are for different situations. The next step is determining how these recommendations will be implemented.