Public Engagement Procedure

Purpose statement

This procedure establishes guidelines for public engagement undertaken on behalf of the Corporation of the Town of Oakville (town).

Scope

This procedure applies to all forms of public engagement undertaken on behalf of the town, where public notice is given.

The town shall give public notice in accordance with Appendix A and B attached to this procedure and as required by applicable statute or regulation.

Procedure

The town is committed to the principles of public notice and engagement, established in the Public Notice and Engagement policy. In every process, regardless of the scope, the principles should guide all public engagement activities.

Types of public engagement

Public engagement efforts undertaken on behalf of the town should reflect the magnitude and complexity of the issue/initiative and the desired goal or outcome. The five broadly recognized types of public engagement the town undertakes are:

  • To inform – provide information to assist in understanding the issue/initiative, alternatives, opportunities and/or solutions
  • To consult – obtain feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions
  • To involve – work directly with the community throughout the process to ensure concerns and aspirations are understood
  • To collaborate – partner with the community in the development of a decision to seek alternatives and/or a preferred solution
  • To empower – place final decision-making in the hands of the community

Notification

In notifying the public, staff will consider the following factors:

  • Statutory  requirements– legislation that specifies notice requirements
  • Financial considerations – budget availability/allocation will be a high priority consideration
  • Geographic area of impact – town-wide or area-specific impacts
  • Community impact – town-wide impact or impact limited to certain groups
  • Target audience – individuals who are directly or indirectly affected
  • Timeframe of notification – ensure sufficient lead time and recognize seasonal constraints
  • Nature of issue/initiative – may be high profile, controversial or routine in nature
  • Type of engagement – ranges from inform to empower
  • Form of notice – online and electronic means will be used as the primary form of notification, other forms of notification may be considered to reflect the scope of the initiative
  • Health and public safety risk – demand the highest standard
  • Accessibility – in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 requirements

All Members of Council will be informed by email for matters of town-wide interest and the Mayor and Ward Councillors will be informed by email for matters that are area/location specific.

In the case of service disruptions, notice shall be provided in accordance with the town’s Accessible Customer Service procedure and service disruption guidelines.

A notice template is attached as Appendix C to ensure clear and accessible communication.

Exemption: This policy applies except where, the Mayor in consultation with the chief administrative officer (CAO) determines that notice should be waived due to emergency, urgency or time sensitivity situations or situations which could affect the health and well-being of the residents of Oakville.

Council shall be informed by email if an exemption is applied.

Definitions

Community: represents the most general and inclusive term for participants of public engagement in the municipal context. This term includes but is not limited to residents, individuals, business, not-for-profit organizations, stakeholders, community and corporate organizations.

Information sign: means a sign erected securely by stakes or other means in the vicinity of, or on site, containing a printed message that should be visible to both pedestrian and motor traffic in the area.

Newspaper: means printed publication in sheet form, intended for general circulation, published regularly at intervals of not longer than a week, consisting in great part of news of current events of general interest and sold to the public and to regular subscribers in accordance with the Interpretation Act.

Notice by mail: unless otherwise specified, means notification forwarded through Canada Post first class delivery service and courier to the last known address of the person being notified, which shall be deemed to be effective on the date sent. Email notification may be used where interested parties have requested notice by email.

Public engagement: represents the various methods by which information is exchanged with the Oakville community. Types of public engagement include but are not limited to online channels, public meetings, open houses, focus groups and surveys.

Responsibilities

Participants are responsible for:

  • Following the town’s Rzone procedure when attending or participating in town public engagement activities

Departments are responsible for:

  • Complying with this procedure
  • Meeting accessibility requirements for public engagement activities
  • Representing the interests of the corporation
  • Complying with the Employee Code of Conduct

Members of Council:

  • The Mayor is the official spokesperson for Town Council and this will also apply to public meetings. As the Head of Council, the Mayor will reflect the position taken by Town Council on any specific issue
  • Members of Council should clearly identify where they are expressing personal views, and not necessarily the views of the town

Procedure details

Procedure Number: G-COM-001-001
Parent Policy: G-COM-001
Section: Governance
Sub-Section: Communications
Author: Strategy, Policy and Communications
Authority: CAO
Effective Date: 2010 Aug 30
Review by Date: 2021
Last Modified: 2016 Nov 14