When should the community be involved?
The primary reason for involving the community in a project or initiative is to provide decision makers with insights of the community that reflect a diverse and balanced range of perspectives so they can make informed and credible decisions. The community should be involved when:
- policies, procedures and/or programs are developed
- input is required from the community on a specific project, program or initiative
- the community’s comments can have an impact on the design and development of a facility, structure, program or project
- it is important to build partnerships and strengthen relationships between the community and the City
- community buy-in is important to achieve success
What makes community involvement meaningful?
To be considered meaningful – for the community and the City –Community Involvement project or initiative should meet the following criteria:
Clarity of purpose: Participants must be clear on the role they will play in the process.
Reflect Diversity: Demographic factors such as gender, ethnicity, age, ability, socioeconomic status and place of residence can affect interests and values. A community involvement should represent the community’s demographic diversity and make tangible efforts to allow for diversity in the community to be reflected.
Credible, balanced information: Participants must have balanced information about the major perspectives on any issue or initiative, so they can refine their perspective(s), voice their point(s) of view, and listen to understand those of other stakeholders.
Organized and facilitated: Most consultation and involvement processes are facilitated by someone whose role it is to encourage participation that is respectful and equitable, so that discussions stay focused and sufficient time is given to the most important issues.
Communication of results: Results must be shared with the community.
What are the roles and responsibilities of those involved?
There are five primary groups who will have a stake in decisions made by Council:
- Citizens of Brantford
- Community Organizations & Groups
- Staff Administration
- City Council
- Other Levels of Government
Anyone who is affected by a decision should be involved in some way in that decision.
The Citizens of Brantford: The citizens’ (community’s) main role is to actively participate in the process, keeping in mind the “greater good” while considering the current and future needs of the community.
Community Organizations & Groups: As an important connection to communities throughout the City of Brantford, community associations and special interest groups play an integral role in facilitating and participating in community involvement. These groups typically have unique knowledge of a topic or issue, or will be impacted in a unique and specific way. It is critical that these groups are identified and invited to participate.
Staff administration: Administration carries out the steps of the process, defines and implements the strategy, assesses and evaluates the tools and facilitates community participation in forums/formats appropriate to the issue at hand as supported in the Community Involvement Handbook. Administration is responsible for ensuring the proper process is established and used properly and that the guiding principles are consistently met.
City Council: Council acknowledges the community’s involvement and Council members actively engage in community participation events. Making sure administration proposals, individual concerns and overall community benefit remain balanced.