Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Budget Public Engagement: Phase 2 - Focus on City services

Today The City of Calgary, along with Dialogue Partners, announced the completion of the first of three phases of the budget engagement and core service review process.

In phase one, participants expressed hopes for a respectful dialogue that brings the community together without polarizing people or issues. Many also indicated a desire to see Council and Administration make a commitment to understand and consider the input that is offered by a wide range of people. In the words of a participant: “If the City has committed to seriously consider input… then The City needs to act on it; and we need a clear understanding of what that commitment means.”

“The foundational work for the engagement process is now complete,” says Whitney Smithers, Manager of Business Planning & Budget Coordination. “We are excited about the level of participation we saw in phase one and we hope Calgarians continue to see value to and participate in this consultation, and invite others to become involved.”

Since February 11, 2011, phase one of the engagement process has focused on gathering input from citizens, City employees, community organizations and associations to set standards for meaningful engagement and to understand what information participants need in order to participate in the consultation process. Already over 1,500 citizens, staff and community associations groups have participated in community workshops, online survey, blogs and discussion groups.

“Judging by the significant response so far, we believe that this process will garner the public input to give Council solid information on what matters most to the citizens of Calgary,” says Whitney. “The next phase will provide opportunities for participants to have a say on the services they value most as well as those services where improvements might be considered.”

The second phase of the engagement process commences March 15 and continues through to the end of April. Participants will have an opportunity to take part in more community forums and online discussions, create their own YouTube video for Budget TV, and conduct their own budget consultation with family and friends.

“The City of Calgary can only be strengthened by this process,” says Owen Tobert, City Manager. “Open dialogue such as this public engagement will sew the fabric for a stronger community for Calgarians and ensure their thoughts are being considered when Council makes decisions about The City’s future.”

On February 7, 2011 Council approved the public engagement process for the combined Core Services review and the business planning and budget coordination – the project being called – Our City. Our Budget. Our Future. This three-phase public engagement process will gather information from citizens, employees and Council about the most valued City services and priorities (Phase 2) and how budget dollars should be allocated to provide the services Calgarians want now and for the future (Phase 3). The information gathered will be provided to Council in June, 2011 as it considers its priorities for the 2012-2014 business plans and budgets and it will build the foundation for future planning and budgeting.

A summary of what was heard in phase one can be found on Calgary.ca/ourfuture

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