Online engagement enables a bilingual heart-to-heart in Moncton

“EngagementHQ made gathering data much easier for us but also much more cohesive.. these are things that we definitely were not able to do before.”

Nicole Melanson, Manager, Communications & Bilingual Services, City of Moncton.

Let’s Chat Moncton is enabling better engagement with a bilingual community across a variety of local issues. With quality information flowing to and from the community and decision-makers, this dedicated online engagement space is bringing clarity to vital conversations in New Brunswick’s largest city.

Speaking to a bilingual community

As Canada’s first officially bilingual city, Moncton communicates primarily in both English and French. Public engagement in Moncton addresses a bilingual community, reflected in online and offline public participation initiatives. Speaking to the engagement needs of a bilingual community remains a key strategic objective as the city takes a digital approach to public participation. With Let’s Chat Moncton/Jasons Moncton, the community can have their say in English and French.

Engaging for better civic awareness in a safe, respectful space

Let’s Chat Moncton facilitates exchanges of information and ideas on municipal policy and services, in addition to wider issues looking to the future. The community is invited to have their say on issues such as playground upgrades and park design, as well as regional immigration policy.

For instance, the project Park at 37 Pebble Creek Way asks for community feedback on the site plan and playground options. Participants can review the city’s vision for the space through a survey. The Parc Gérald-Leblanc Park project offers a survey, a Q&A space where participants can have their queries answered, and a space to share memories and stories about the park.

The Parc Gérald-Leblanc Park, an urban space rather than a typical playground, is a popular venue for the downtown community of residents and workers. In designing this space, the city wanted to get the community thinking about what they wanted there and how it could look. Speaking to needs such as seating, lighting, and popular times of use, the city sought to understand how the community ranked these criteria. These priorities are informing the design of the space.

From parks, the conversation grows out to immigration policy, a vital issue in sustaining economic growth and high-quality public services. Let’s Chat Moncton provides residents with opportunities to learn about and respond to the Greater Moncton Immigration Strategy 2019-2024. The dedicated online engagement space equips the city for this potentially contentious conversation to be held in an educative and respectful way. Removed from the limitations of social media, this allows for the community to be better informed and to have their questions addressed.

For this major consultation across the City, consultants are also leading in-person conversations and the online space allows to broaden the reach, to bring diversity in the type of feedback and it is a good place to be better informed about the Strategy.

Learning curve

The City of Moncton started with these important projects only 4 month ago and Nicole Melacon, Manager of Communications and Services, is very happy with the results so far. In her words, the onboarding process was a little bit overwhelming at the beginning, but the training, the resources and the help that she got made her confident to use the space.

One thing that we always address in the training is the importance to ask engaging questions because you will need to draft questions in almost all of the engagement tools, either it is to ask for sharing stories, to present a topic in a forum or in a survey. You can read about the best practices in our online guide on the subject.

She was invited to present the results of the poll from the Wynwood Park Detention Basin project to the council. The information gathered through the online survey is seen as valuable information in the decision making process.

Closing the loop

Let’s Chat Moncton is a two-way street, taking information to the community and bringing data to decision-makers. Online engagement supports the visual presentation of information to the community in ways that are not only effective but also appealing. It allows the community to easily have their say at their convenience, thereby supplementing offline engagement activities. It enables the streamlining of information going out from local government to the community for more focused public engagement. Once the community has had its say, the city can also illustrate how the community’s contributions have shaped decisions. As projects on the site grow, the resulting momentum from registrations, participants, and input promises a domino effect.

Tune in to the podcast to learn more about how Moncton is achieving seamless bilingual public engagement.

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