What is Public Engagement?
Public engagement is a process that brings people together to address issues of common importance, and to solve shared problems. This can be done in person and online. Research tells us that cities with effective public engagement processes develop plans, strategies, programs and policies to better meet the needs of their residents and key stakeholders. In turn, this results in increased citizen satisfaction.
Does the City have an engagement policy?
Yes. The City of St. John's has developed an engagement policy to support its work. The policy notes the guiding principles for public engagement which include: commitment, accountability, clear and timely communication and inclusiveness. The policy also outlines the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the process from Councillors and staff, to external stakeholders and includes a requirement for evaluation. In 2017 the City completed a review of the policy.
What was the impetus for the City's policy and framework?
In April 2014, the Engage! St. John's Task Force was established and brought together 25 organizational and citizen-at-large representatives to help shape the City's policy direction for public engagement and to identify tools and techniques to support the work.
Following a review of what other municipalities were doing well and what the City of St. John's should consider, the Task Force developed a comprehensive report. The final report with recommendations was submitted to Council and accepted on October 20, 2014. The City is working through and implementing the recommendations.
What is the Engage! St. John's engagement portal?
The Engage! St. John's community engagement portal is a web-based tool designed to make public engagement easier, more inclusive and more representative of public opinion. This online tool is used to host information, feedback and discussions regarding initiatives that have been identified by the City of St. John's as having a public engagement component.
Key components of the engagement site include resources such as presentations, reports, videos, FAQs, infographics and interactive features such as quick polls, questions and answers, discussion forums as well as What was Heard documents. This portal allows for real-time engagement on projects and initiatives that matter to the community.