If the members of City Council are looking for ways to bring such initiatives as the Official Community Plan and other community engagement projects forward during these times of COVID, the may want to just review the rules that they put in place for this years Tax Sale.
The Tax Sale which took place yesterday was shifted to the Civic Centre Auditorium and included a cap in participation at 45 members of the public, along with other COVID related measures such as social distancing, the wearing of masks and collection of contact tracing information.
That may be the approach that Council could make use of to seek out some wider feedback as they move forward on large community themes such as the current OCP program, which recently had the City take bookings for one on one meetings with the Mayor, a project that Mr. Brain had observed recently was well received.
Still, if the Council Members want to get a wider overview of how the community views their plans, a larger in public session might offer them the best feedback and using the Tax Sale planning as their guide may provide the path to follow.
It may require two separate sessions on the same day to accommodate as many participants as possible and provide for a wider cross section of the public. A process which would see residents interested in attending having to reserve a spot which still might limit the attendance to those accepting of the COVID measures required.
Council could also offer a work around for those that couldn't get a reservation or have concerns about attending such functions even with precautions in place; that would be by the use of the CityWest community channel, or the City's social media options to stream each session, with both the Civic Centre and Lester Centre both already wired for CityWest stream casting.
Council could follow up on each session with the use of the city's Rupert Talks portal and YouTube page, providing for rebroadcasts of the presentation and to allow for further comments or questions to get as wide a range of opinion as possible for the initiative.
The ambitious OCP overview is the new centrepiece for the current city council and administration and every opportunity to make the community aware of and to comment on the public record should be a welcome addition to the dialogue.
The theme of adding to the conversation made for a valid comment to one of our stories of last week on Transportation opportunities and the OCP, with one of our readers seeking a wider forum to provide feedback to the city.
The Tax Sale Model with modifications, could also be used for Public Hearings on some of the current and percolating land questions that are being addressed or have yet to be addressed by City Council, something which seems to be a topic that generates quite a bit of interest by the public.
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If required, City Council could even shift their Regular Council Sessions to the larger venues to allow for larger attendance and take advantage of City owned CityWest's connectivity until we return to more normal times.
It may even give Council opportunity to devote more than just a quarter of an hour to civic issues.
Earlier this summer, Councillor Barry Cunningham noted for Council that they needed to guard against letting COVID become a barrier to wider engagement with the public; in their recent Tax Sale the template for such engagement is available for the Council and their senior staff if desired.
If it's good enough for collecting tax revenue, it probably is worth a shot when it comes to a nod towards local democracy and community engagement.
For more notes on City Council see our Council discussion page here.