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Calgary Budget Consultation: 13 Design Principles

On Friday, the City of Calgary launched a large-scale citizen engagement project: Our City. Our Budget. Our Future.

In February 2011, Council approved the engagement process for the facilitated review of core services and The City’s business planning and budget process. It is an extensive engagement process that will facilitate conversations with citizens, employees and Council to identify and confirm immediate priorities for The City’s next three year business planning and budget cycle while keeping an eye on the longer-term vision that will support the future that Calgarians envision. Dialogue Partners, Ottawa based public engagement consultants, has been hired to assist with the engagement process.

The backgrounder (PDF) has more details.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce has recommended thirteen principles “to be incorporated into the final design of the project”:

Principles for The City of Calgary 2012 – 2014 Business Planning and Budgeting Consultation

The City of Calgary is developing a public engagement process for the upcoming 2012 – 2014 business planning and budgeting cycle. Authenticity and effectiveness of the engagement process will be critical to the success of the initiative.

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce looks for the following guidelines to be incorporated into the final design of the project:

  1. Broad outreach – City budgets affect all citizens, and The City must find a way to connect with all stakeholder groups and the general public.
  2. Authentic engagement — It is important that The City undertake legitimate and effective efforts to engage stakeholders, utilize input, and/or communicate why input can’t be used.
  3. Identify community goals and priorities — The Process must start by identifying what matters most to Calgarians. Budget decisions are best made when they are based on the kind of city Calgarians want, as opposed to narrow tactical tradeoffs.
  4. Reporting back — Calgarians must receive consistent and timely feedback on what has been heard, learned and, most importantly, changed, as a result of the engagement process.
  5. Openness, transparency and dialogue — Citizens should be able to access and contribute to the discussions and dialogue arising from the process. A web space could help achieve this goal.
  6. Ongoing and repeatable –The process should be constructed to allow ongoing feedback with annual input from the public and stakeholders.
  7. Legitimacy — The process should be guided by the advice of a committee of recognized community leaders at the governance level, such as Board Chairs of City Authorities, key institutions, leading businesses and social services organizations.
  8. Sufficient resourcing — Allow for reasonable resourcing for the consultation.
  9. Accommodation of differences — Different groups require different techniques and approaches for engagement. The process should ask groups how they want to be involved.
  10. Use of multiple approaches — Traditional processes such as meetings, open houses and submissions should be partnered with use of online social media to generate public feedback and commentary on ideas and submissions.
  11. Multi-stage process — Multiple stages help people understand the process and learn as they go. This facilitates understanding of the evolution of the priorities and helps Calgarians support the outcomes.
  12. Reasonable timelines — Inform the public of the various stages of the process with timelines included. Remind the public through the process of these timelines.
  13. Build on existing work — Use The City of Calgary’s Engage! Policy as a starting point for engagement.

Very solid! Whoever wrote these knows what they are talking about.

The three-phased consultation is expected to include several online elements and is scheduled to run through June 2011.

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