The Ups and Downs of Civic Engagement

My day began with a wonderfully constructive and productive meeting with several members of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods — not to mention a very fine breakfast at Adeline’s on the Drive.  The meeting was full of great ideas and companionship and the sharing of news from across the City. Made me feel good.

But when I got home at noon I discovered the City of Vancouver had released the Final Report of the Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force.  What could be wrong with that you might well ask. After all, I am always going on about improving community engagement.  Well, this Final Report on engaging residents was created without the members of the Task Force or its staff meeting with any of the city’s local Residents’ Associations.  That is just nuts!

I have skimmed the Report and am now going through it in detail, and I know I’ll be writing more about it.  But how can it be taken seriously when they didn’t even try to communicate with the locals who deal with the problems of civic engagement on a daily basis?

Very disappointing.


2 Responses to The Ups and Downs of Civic Engagement

  1. I share you concerns and I asked a task force member (informally) about their failure to include the CVN. Here’s part of response (and please bear in mind that this is not an official statement from the task force):

    We did connect with so many groups and did so many things, and yet, as you can imagine, it is difficult to face in all directions when you are volunteering your time.

    there will doubtless be many people who will say similar things about our ability to contact, connect or engage with them.

    The “Coalition” didn’t form until Fall 2013. Before that most of the members were members of “Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver”.
    Task Force member Colleen McGuinness tried on multiple occasions over many months to arrange a meeting with them. However, in July they finally gave a formal “no” to meeting.
    As a result, and given how late it was in the Task Force’s process when NSV gave a formal no, the Task Force decided to use the report from the planning commission done in 2011 in consultation with all the NSV members, as well as other neighbourhood groups, to inform this perspective.

    It would be interesting to know the context regarding why the NSV refused to meet.

  2. jakking says:

    Hi Alex: Thanks for your comments. Couple of points:

    (a) NSV is a political party and has been since the 2011 election; that is a very different organization than the CoVN;
    (b) I cannot speak for the NSV not being a member in general, let alone a member of their Steering Committee. However I believe they thought that if the MTF met with NSV, the MTF might then claim to have spoken to all the neighbourhoods by proxy, and NSV did not want to be involved in a dubious process such as that. However, you would need to check with them to confirm that.

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