St. John’s civic engagement task force to hold first meeting today

Daniel MacEachern
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A new St. John’s task force will hold its first meeting today to come up with ways to increase civic engagement.

Coun. Dave Lane announced at Monday’s regular council meeting that the 25 groups and individuals chosen for the “Engage! Task Force” — from more than 70 applicants — will have a “fairly intense set of meetings” over the next month or so.

Two people from each of the city’s five wards were selected (three from Ward 2), along with a range of community groups such as the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian Federation of Students and the Refugee Immigrant Advisory Council.

“We’ll come back with a framework for ideas for engaging throughout the city by late June,” said Lane, who added he was pleased by the enthusiasm and the calibre of the applications.

The city’s public engagement committee will have a lot of input in the report, Lane told The Telegram Wednesday.

“It’ll be drafted by staff, but we will have input into that,” he said.

The report will then go to council for approval and adoption.

Improving participation

Lane said “engagement,” for the purposes of the task force, means both making city hall more accessible to residents and improving the city’s ability to notify residents about what it’s doing, with almost innumerable steps to consider to improve participation.

Lane said the committee might consider whether St. John’s should consider holding meetings at a time other than 4:30 p.m. so people who work during the day can attend, whether the city should broadcast meetings on its website, whether child care should be provided for public meetings to make it easier for people to attend and whether the city’s 311 service should be expanded.

“I suspect we will include in that report feedback and measurement criteria so that we’re constantly reviewing and reminding ourselves that this is something we’re doing.”

Lane noted that increasing public engagement at city hall was an important campaign issue for him, so he’s happy to see the task force get to work.

“It’s very exciting to see that there’s something that pretty well matches exactly what I was hoping would happen.”

Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Ward 2, Coalition of Persons, Canadian Federation of Students Advisory Council

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