GF talks future and politics
The City of Grand Forks, participated as one of three municipalities out of 26 in a pilot ‘Community Engagement’ project sponsored by the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG) on March 12 at the Omega Restaurant. Seventy-five local citizens registered to join in a lively discussion facilitated by Leslie Taylor of L.A. Taylor Consulting, Banff, Alberta.
The goal of the evening was to solicit discussion and ideas from the community about:
- five topics for the city of Grand Forks government to focus on
- issues the public needs more information about and
- impacting the next municipal election (ideas for getting the voters engaged, enticing candidates to run and getting voters out to the polling stations)
The pilot community engagement events were held in a small (Fruitvale), medium (Grand Forks) and large (Cranbrook) municipality from the AKBLG. The three events were held consecutively March 11 to 13 in each of the municipalities and the resulting report is to be submitted at the AKBLG annual general meeting (AGM) and conference in Creston April 9 to 11.
“If successful, the events could extend to additional municipalities,” said Taylor. Grand Forks and the other participating municipalities will also receive a report following the AGM.
The Grand Forks conversation followed a buffet dinner. Guests were instructed to open, in order, the five packages of instructions available on each table. The instructions initiated talk at round tables with fellow citizens and the mayor and council. Each table shared their ideas with each other, but not with the larger group.
Discussion was timed for participants to share ideas and listen to the ideas of others. Collaboration was required to complete the tasks and submit responses before moving to another table to collaborate with different citizens and council on the next envelope of instructions.
City representation included, mayor Brian Taylor, councillor Cher Wyers (AKBLG)), councillor Bob Kendel, chief administrative officer (CAO) Doug Allin, corporate officer Diane Heinrich, and Sarah Winton, deputy corporate secretary.
“There was wonderful cross-section of the community at the event,” said Wyers “…young people, retired and professionals. The process was engaged and respectful and gave everybody a voice.”
Wyers said, “The project evolved from a regional collaborative sub-committee working group that are trying to find a way for all the regions to work better together to offer a voice to senior levels of government.”
The first envelope required participants to determine the level of government (municipal, provincial, or federal) responsible for a list of services.
The second envelope held a paper loonie, representing a tax dollar, divided into 10 pieces for participants to determine the portion of it that was offered to each level of government. “It was interesting to see how surprised people were that local government gets only 8 per cent …many thought it was 20 per cent,” said Wyers.
The third envelope required participants to list 20 things local government should be working on.
The forth envelope required that five items be highlighted from the 20. “How do you determine priorities when everyone has an opinion?” shared Wyers.
The last envelope spoke to the local election-how to get the community engaged how to get candidates to run, and how to get the population to the polls.
Taylor has been facilitating groups for 20 years. She spent six years as mayor of Banff and served six years on council. She has a fish and wildlife degree and worked for both national and provincial parks in Banff.