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Council tackles communication

City council wants to improve the way the city engages and communicates with the public. Council unanimously approved a motion brought forward by Mayor Nolan Crouse Monday evening.

City council wants to improve the way the city engages and communicates with the public.

Council unanimously approved a motion brought forward by Mayor Nolan Crouse Monday evening.

Council will meet as a committee of the whole sometime before the year ends to generate ideas aimed at improving communication and public consultation. Administration will then present a report Jan. 4.

“You’re not going to have all the answers on Jan. 4 but there might be some low-hanging fruit changes that you can make,” Crouse said.

Crouse feels city council has to do a better job of communicating its decisions to the community and must be better able to understand the needs of the community than is achieved under current practices.

“It’s intended to try to make sure that there’s more knowledge by each other, of each other’s needs,” Crouse said of his initiative.

The previous council dealt with several issues that highlighted citizen dissatisfaction with the city’s public consultation process. Crouse pledged during the election campaign that the process needs to be changed so residents feel they have more of a voice.

The existence of new technology and social media are factors that should also be considered when the city rethinks its communication practices, Crouse said.

He said his motion is intended to provide an avenue for all the councillors to bring forward their ideas.

Coun. Cam MacKay campaigned for a neighbourhood rights bylaw aimed at improving the way the city consults with residents on developments that change existing neighbourhoods.

“That’s definitely an area we need improvement on, so over the next three years I’m going to be doing my best to improve the engagement and find a system that works here in St. Albert to enfranchise people and provide them more of a say in a lot of areas,” MacKay said.

When it comes to improving communication between city hall and residents, MacKay admitted that this will be a difficult task despite the advent of new information technology.

“We’ve got a lot of options nowadays that we didn’t have before,” he said. “The world is so interconnected but how you actually communicate with the resident that lives here still is a mystery to a lot of municipalities.”