Appendix A: Outline

a. Defining the Purpose for Engagement Scope (please note that determining purpose and scope will be facilitated by the Citizen Engagement Team).

The first step in designing a citizen engagement initiative is to clearly define what you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to get input on a changing policy, you want to involve the public in solutions to reduce homelessness, or you are looking for citizens to play a role in emergency preparedness; regardless of your overall idea, it is essential to clearly define your purpose.

We suggest that ministries spend time upfront defining the purpose as this will help decision making throughout the project. It is also important that all staff working on the project understand and are working towards the same purpose. A defined purpose is key to clear communication with your audience, so it is very important to be clear and concise.

One way to define your purpose is to use the following sentence guide:

We [who is responsible for the consultation] want to understand the views of [the audience] about [the topic or question you are asking the audience] so that [who is responsible for taking action] can [take the following action] by [timeframe] to achieve [the corporate or social aims].

Sample: Parliamentary Secretary John Yap wants to understand the views and values of stakeholders and the public about existing liquor rules so that he can provide recommendations to government on changes to the liquor laws by the end of 2014.

b. Determining Scope (please note that determining purpose and scope will be facilitated by the Citizen Engagement Team).

The Province is involved in a diverse range of services, projects, activities and planning matters, and it is recognized that processes may vary according to the level of impact of a particular issue. A good conversation to have upfront is the levels of impact you are anticipating, for example: Is the project local, site specific, regional or province-wide? Does it involve service delivery or policy development?

Also important is to determine what information we are seeking. What is the scope and limitation of the discussion? A clear understanding of what is needed from the discussion, and what decisions are likely to be influenced by the findings helps to keep the process relevant and avoid misunderstandings with citizens about possible outcomes that may be outside the scope of the process.

Similarly defining the timeframe for the engagement process is important. At what stage of the project will the discussion with the public be undertaken? When will the process begin and end? Are we talking to citizens at the very beginning or scoping stage of a project, or are we addressing a specific element of an overall plan? Are there key dates or deadlines to be considered? Are there decisions that will need to be made during the process?

c. Defining the Audience

Defining the desired audience is an important component to planning an engagement. It is important to identify who they are and how they prefer to provide input. Some questions to ask are:

  • Who is the primary audience? (Individuals and groups within specific demographics that you want to ensure you hear from)
  • Who is the secondary audience? (Individuals and groups who it would be beneficial to hear from outside the initial group)
  • What is the key perspective of each audience?
  • How large are each of the intended audiences?
  • Have you engaged this audience previously? On what? How? What did you learn?
  • How do you think your audience prefers to be engaged?
  • How does our audience connect with you now? What are their issues? 
  • It is important to consider any geographical communities and/or communities of interest. You should be able to define specific groups that should be invited to participate.
  • Are there other organizations, agencies or partners involved with this issue? I.e., consultants, provincial and/or federal government representatives, other local government agencies etc.
  • What are the perceptions/concerns/needs of British Columbians? A summary of our current knowledge can enhance the process by ensuring that we consider and/or address any perceptions or concerns that have already been expressed. Successful community discussion relies on genuine efforts to inform all stakeholders about the process and to address barriers that may impact on the community’s active participation.

As a few examples, here are a few groups that might form your target audience and some considerations to facilitate their participation:

Older people or people with disabilities:  Consider working with seniors groups to facilitate additional publicity and participation: Schedule meetings during the day. Participants may require assistance with transportation. Venues must be accessible to those with disabilities. Printed material should be appropriate for people with impaired vision.

Young families, single parent families:  Consider using local schools and libraries for additional publicity. Connect with service providers to spread the world. Consider providing childcare or children’s activities at meetings.

People who are unemployed or low income:  May require assistance with transportation. For engaging youth, an innovative ‘event based’ consultation process is more likely to be successful. Consider using local high schools and youth networks for publicity and participation. This group may also require assistance with transportation.

First Nations:  Consider talking with your Ministry’s Aboriginal coordinator or the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation to determine how best you can connect with First Nations groups. Rural Areas Brainstorm the unique ways you can connect with people outside of Victoria and Vancouver. Is there a local newspaper, a newsletter or a meeting taking place where you can let people know?