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Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mayor Gets in on Community Well Being Townhalls - With a Twist

I guess these townhalls in regard to the Community Wellbeing Initiative were just too good to pass up, as Mayor Karen Farbridge is putting aside some time to talk to members of the community. There is a difference though. Don't scan the below press release looking for a location. This townhall will be a phone-in.
It seems like a somewhat less than intimate way for the people to be able to interact with the Mayor, but maybe they couldn't find the right size space on such short notice. Or maybe the Mayor's staff read the comments on the 59 Carden St. blog and feel that their might be some kind of security risk. 
I've participated in a conference call-style press conference before, and I have to say that even though it was very well run, there's just something about it that's so impersonal. Combined with the fact that those participating will be randomly selected as opposed to gathering people genuinely invested in discussing the topic at hand, I have to say I'm somewhat dubious about this process.
Regardless, it's nice that the Mayor is reaching out, and I'm sure some of our fellow Guelphites have some words for her. Get all the details in the press release below:
GUELPH, ON, September 19, 2012 – On Tuesday, September 25 at 7 p.m., 10,000 randomly selected residents will get a phone call from Mayor Karen Farbridge inviting them to participate in a one-hour discussion about the quality of life in Guelph.
"I look forward to hearing lots of great ideas from people across the community about the future of our city," said Mayor Karen Farbridge. "We need to work together to ensure all Guelph residents have the best possible quality of life.
Everyone in Guelph is welcome to participate in the “telephone town hall”. Residents can register in advance at guelphwellbeing.ca to receive a phone call, or make the call themselves at 1-888-886-6603 x 19843# on September 25 at 7 p.m. The event allows residents across the community to participate in a traditional town hall meeting from the comfort of their own homes. Participants can choose to ask questions or simply listen to the discussion about wellbeing in Guelph.
As part of the ongoing Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative, the City and its partners collected comments from thousands of people using survey, neighbourhood meetings, comments cards and online conversations. The telephone town hall is one more way for residents to join the conversation.
"We're using several different ways to connect with our community in the hopes of reaching as many people as possible," said Barbara Powell, General Manager of Community Engagement. "This is Guelph’s first telephone town hall, and if people like the way it works we may do it again for future projects or initiatives."
A summary of community input will be presented during the Wellbeing Forum on Thursday, October 11. The forum will gather community leaders, residents, city staff, politicians and stakeholders to review community comments and concerns, and begin developing shared vision, goals, priorities and action plans for wellbeing in Guelph. More information about the Wellbeing Forum is available here.
About the Guelph Community Wellbeing Initiative
Using the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, the City and its partners are measuring Guelph’s quality of life in terms of community vitality, democratic engagement, environment, education, time use, health, leisure and culture and living standards. Learn more about the Canadian Index of Wellbeing and the eight dimensions of wellbeing here.
Its purpose is to develop a shared understanding and vision for Guelph’s future so the City and community partners can make better decisions, improve programs and policies, and increase the wellbeing of people, neighbourhoods and the community as a whole.
In addition, the initiative aims to inspire more people to take action and contribute to Guelph’s community wellbeing – creating a healthy and safe community where people can live life to the fullest.


Craig Chamberlain said...

(I'll try this again-- )

Adam, dubious, yes. Consultation Theatre or full-out damage control. Or both.

Hoping your comment about security considerations for the phone in, based on 59 Carden St. posts was tongue-in-cheek. Citizens should be able to critical of how things are being run without being vilified, as has been the case, with concerned citizens made out to be scary people. These are citizens, Adam, and they are saying they deserve better.

Dave Sills said...

I think it's a good way to reach out to citizens who may not typically come out for such things - aka the 'usual suspects'. There are more than enough opportunities for us usual suspects to participate in this initiative. A related shameless plug here - GCL will be holding a special Wellbeing Initiative workshop focused on local democratic participation at 10 Carden this Thurs at 7 pm!