‘A Great City is an Open City’, an article from Councillor Henderson

A Great City is an Open City

To improve the way we as a city go about developing and renewing our neighbourhoods, City Council has launched a special initiative to improve public engagement, community collaboration and citizen participation. The Open City Initiative is a three year initiative (2014-2017) at the end of which we hope to have a procedure in place that improves public consultation by enhancing openness, transparency, and accountability.  Over the next three years the initiative will review best practices from around world, consult with Edmontonians and other stakeholders, and work to build capacity.

Strong public engagement and consultation is crucial to the success of city government meeting the needs of Edmontonians. Public engagement at its best sees City Administration working with residents, community leagues, local businesses, non-profits and stakeholders to develop effective and meaningful solutions for the problems we face in our city. What we want to avoid is public engagement that can feel like an exercise in marketing, rather than true engagement. Policy may appear to be developed in a vacuum, and public meetings at times feel like the place where residents are informed about what has already been decided, rather than consulted about what citizens would like.

 

The first part of the City’s initiative is to start the conversation about public engagement. This conversation is facilitated by nine workshops at various locations around Edmonton during the month of November, as well as meetings, surveys, and an on-line discussion guide.  The purpose of the discussion guide is to help citizens become aware of issues and discuss what we’ve learned about public engagement around the City.

The goal of the Open City Initiative is to ensure that The City of Edmonton and its citizens are innovative, inclusive and engaged. A great city is an open city.

You can learn more about the Open City Initiative and resister for the workshops at www.edmonton.ca/openengagement

Feel free to contact me at ben.henderson@edmonton.ca, call me at 780 496 8146, or follow me on Twitter, @ben_hen.