IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THE TOWN OF WOLFVILLE CAN IMPROVE ITS CONSULTATION AND FEEDBACK COLLECTION TO INVOLVE RESIDENTS IN DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES?
Meaningful consultation is worth a great deal of thought. I support one-on-one and small group table-top consultations over town halls. It’s difficult to state your opinion when all your neighbours or colleagues in a large room have a contrary opinion! And we need to hear all opinions, not just those of the majority.
As a councillor I will maintain my openness to many opinions as they are all considered in my decisions.
We are not a direct democracy with every citizen having a say in every decision. This election is our chance to vote for up to six councillors to represent us. Those councillors will then consider the research, data, as well as resident or business community issues and then vote for what they think is best for the town.
It is exceedingly challenging to consult and gather opinion during a pandemic. Prior to March, the town was amending its planning strategy and efforts to gain fresh opinions via live meetings and social media were working well. These efforts can only be refreshed and improved.
That's a good question, and requires careful consideration, as a member of council my main focus is to be a voice for the people. With over 4200 residents and over 3500 students , we are really employed by all of you. You choose who you want to represent you, so we better step up and listen to your concerns and opinions on how we improve the community we live in.
Currently, Town Council has open meetings that are recorded and allow for limited resident participation. However, meeting times are not always convenient. In an effort to broaden information sharing and response collection, the Town could work with existing organizations, such as the WBDC, service clubs, food bank, Farmers’ Market table, and a Town tent at Clock Park to make available information and feedback forms, in addition to the online information provided on the Town of Wolfville website.
The town should not be expected to consult with residents on every issue affecting its diverse segments of the community. However, issues that require significant time and monetary commitment or are at risk to have an adverse effect on residents, businesses, tourism and our arts community should be given particular consideration before implementing a decision. Therefore, it is important to ensure open engagement with the relevant community components and examine a more innovative approach to meaningful discussions. It is worthwhile considering web-based platforms, crowdsourcing, citizen panels as well as an integrated approach to public consultation and feedback-collection.
Oh boy, this is a big one! I think with better planning this can be done. It needs to work from both parties though not just at council level. I feel more residents need to step up and take ownership for getting more involved in council meetings, q&a's , our actual election and town events etc. The town needs to get people involved too; from stage one, not stage four and then hopefully things will improve and more residents will be interested in what's happening at council level!Most only pay attention to Federal and Provincial government when Municipal level is so important as well.
Several residents I’ve met in the past weeks have expressed concern on the public consultation process. People are concerned that their opinions won’t be taken into consideration, or they just don’t hear about events. They’re also concerned that - especially with things moving online due to COVID-19 - a few loud voices will dominate the conversation. We need to be soliciting feedback from residents more consistently, and making sure consultation takes place in such a way that residents will feel comfortable speaking candidly, and know that their concerns are heard.
An entity can always improve communication. The way the Town currently collects input is:
· Serve on a committee – all committees of the Town have community representation of about half
· Committee Meetings/Town Council and Committee of the Whole meetings - public input at the beginning of the meeting
-Correspondence that is sent to the Town Council email is public and included in the packages for council to review
A way to improve, is to hold more open houses. These have provided us with great conversations and input. Doing more of these – and not specific to a topic – but general discussion, would promote a more comfortable setting for consultation and general communication.
Frankly, I think that the town (primarily staff) do a great job of sharing information whether it be by letter (i.e. insert with the water or tax bill) by adding/updating information on the website or by various social media outlets. I suspect that this question comes as a result of the move to the oneway system. If this is accurate, that particular decision, much like all of the decisions being made federally, provincially or more locally either by politicians or medical professionals was being made quickly and on the daily in order to pivot with each and every new piece of information about the pandemic.
Nicholas Ken Jin Tan
Based on the success and failures of previous large projects, the public consultation process must be improved. This can be done by diversifying council. Beyond that, we are a small town. Our elected officials should be people who spend time in the community talking to residents and getting feedback.