City launches new online platform to gather public opinion

By Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger

Al Macpherson. Photo: Mallory Cramp-Waldinsperger.

For Al Macpherson, a 70-year-old Lindsay resident, city council has not been the most inviting place. “I’ve been to council meetings a few different times, and I prefer not to be,” says Macpherson, “It’s very intimidating.”

According to Hannah Scott, communications and marketing officer for the City of Kawartha Lakes, Macpherson is not alone. A new online platform for citizens to share their opinions, Scott explains, might be the solution.

Jump In, a website launched in mid-June will be used to gather and process information from local residents such as the city’s upcoming 2020-2023 strategic plan.

Over 300 people have already registered and completed the strategic plan survey, says Brenda Stonehouse, strategy and performance specialist for the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Stonehouse and Scott both say that this platform will not be used to replace public meetings, but act as a way to gather information from individuals who cannot attend. “There’s always the loudest voice in the room at public meetings, and this really levels the playing field,” explains Scott.

The site, which is currently considered as a pilot project will continue until at least June 2020. Stonehouse says that her team is optimistic about the platform’s continuation based on what they’ve heard thus far.

“We really do need a platform for all of our major projects going forward,” says Stonehouse, who is responsible for gathering the information from the online survey and presenting it to both council and an administrative team.

The survey asks participants to select what they think should be prioritized in the new plan, which Stonehouse says is used to keep city council on track when it comes to larger projects.

Macpherson plans to check if his voice is represented in the final report.

“If it is, I’ll feel good. If it isn’t, I’ll be a little disappointed,” he explains. However, he also says that he feels more optimistic about his concerns being addressed in the future than he has in the past.

“The voice that used to be silent now has an opportunity to be heard,” says Stonehouse. The survey, alongside more information can be found here.

1 Comment

  1. Joan Abernethy says:

    Like other residents of Kawartha Lakes who have experienced difficulty being heard, I welcome this initiative but at the same time, I am a little skeptical that it might be regarded by staff as a mere pacifier for citizens who complain we cannot get heard.

    Thé only way this initiative can do any real good is if the results are compiled, analyzed and presented to and seriously considered by council in making its decisions. It is no good if staff merely tell council what citizens think. Council must be given the task of looking at the results themselves, as individual representatives of constituents. That way, they can confirm and clarify with their constituents in order to make sound judgements on our behalf.

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