The City of Colwood is turning to its citizens to help shape council’s priorities over the next four years with a pair of brand-new initiatives.
In the coming days, Colwood residents can expect survey cards to arrive in their mailboxes providing them with a unique code to fill out an online survey sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas for the future of the city. On Feb. 11, residents will have a chance to share those ideas and work with their fellow residents, staff, and council to come up with new ideas at the city’s first Ideas Fair, to be held at Royal Bay Secondary School.
“We are an entirely new council, so we need to set our priorities for the next four years,” said Mayor Doug Kobayashi. “We’ve been knocking on doors trying to get a sense of what the issues are for the citizens, but you can’t do that well with a two or three-minute conversation from door knocking.”
Looking to expand opportunities for more detailed feedback to be received, Kobayashi said the first thought was to run a survey. The problem with that, he said, is the city knows from experience that survey participation can be a bit of a mixed bag, so the idea to organize an in-person event came about, and the Ideas Fair was created.
“It’s going to be an interactive process with all of council being there from 2 to 7 p.m. with tables set up for the various topics we think are going to be important to the people of Colwood. We are just going to have citizens share their ideas with us and staff.”
The topics the Ideas Fair will focus on include seniors, youth, health, arts and culture, traffic, sewer service, and “big ideas.” Kobayashi said these topics were chosen as a focus for the fair as many of the other big topics for the community like parks and recreation and the environment already have citizen advisory committees established for this council term.
Depending on how the fair goes and what ideas come out of it, Kobayashi said council may decide to establish more citizen advisory committees to tackle topics which need more discussion, or simply take good ideas and incorporate them in other council and city work without establishing a dedicated committee.
Kobayashi set enhancing public participation and transparency in the city’s workings as a campaign goal of his, and he said it has become clear to him everyone on council supports the goal as well.
“Council will get around the table and brainstorm, but you know what, we sometimes miss quite a few things that are important to the community as a whole, so this is that opportunity to fix that. When I said more public engagement, I meant more public engagement like this.”
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