Belleville community engagement tactics, results & improvement

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| Published , updated January 18, 2024

Want to know how to stay up to date on the decisions of city council? The following are the ways Belleville’s Communications department engaged and informed the public during the development of the operating and capital budgets. These are the best places to watch/subscribe if you want to receive notifications of opportunities to engage with council.

More: Municipal Public Engagement in Ontario

The City is currently lacking a Public Notice Policy ie How notice is provided to the public and, if notice is to be provided, the form, manner and times notice shall be given. The policy is required by Section 270 of the Municipal Act.

Operating Budget communication methods and results

The 2024 Operating and Capital budget were the first time the City’s adopted budget engagement strategy was used and staff are closely monitoring the efficacy of the strategy (e.g., survey content and improved budget materials on the City’s website) to ensure continuous improvement.

Survey results emphasized the importance of providing clear and concise budget and educational materials regarding the City’s overall spending.

The City also sought input on preferred channels for budget information and suggestions on how overall engagement could be enhanced. This feedback will be crucial in refining future budget engagement strategies for Council’s consideration.

According to the 2024 Operating Budget Public Engagement Report, Communications used a number of channels to inform and engage the public through this first phase including:

Results

Total estimated views:

  • Belleville.ca/Budget – 473
  • Facebook (Organic) – 3 Posts Total with Average Reach of 1,202 and Engagement of 53
  • Facebook (Paid) – 1 Boosted Post with Reach of 10,647 and Engagement of 711
  • Twitter – 4 Organic Posts Total with Average Reach of 623 and Engagement of 15
    Digital
  • Email to News Subscribers – Reached 271 Subscribers
  • Belleville Updates Newsletter – Reached 179 Subscribers
  • Marquee Sign (QSWC) – AADT of 22,000/Month
    Print
  • Community Press Ad – Total Reach of Approx. 18,553 Belleville Households

Capital budget communication methods and results

Communications used a number of channels to inform and engage the public through this first phase including:

Preliminary Survey Results

Communications around Phase 1 and the Preliminary Capital Budget Survey have garnered the following results:

  • Belleville.ca/Budget – 638 (380% traffic increase campared to previous period)
  • Capital Budget 101 Page – 123
  • News Release – 16
  • Facebook – 3 Posts Total with Average Reach of 1,288 and Engagement of 69
  • Twitter – 3 Posts Total with Average Reach of 620 and Engagement of 22
  • Email to News Subscribers – Reached 245 Subscribers
  • Belleville Updates Newsletter – Reached 129 Subscribers
  • Marquee Sign (QSWC) –AADT of 22,000/Month
  • Community Press Ad – Total Reach of Approx. 18,553 Belleville Households

Draft Survey Results

Communications around Phase 2 and the 2024 Draft Capital Budget & Asset Management Survey have garnered the following results:

  • Belleville.ca/Budget – 404 (90.57% increased compared to previous period of Nov. 1-15)
  • News Release – 9
  • Facebook (Organic) – 2 Posts Total with Average Reach of 666 and Engagement of 6
  • Facebook (Paid) – 1 Boosted Post with Reach of 7,040 and Engagement of 856
  • Twitter – 3 Organic Posts Total with Average Reach of 510 and Engagement of 12
    Email to News Subscribers – Reached 271 Subscribers
  • Belleville Updates Newsletter – Reached 179 Subscribers
  • Marquee Sign (QSWC) –AADT of 22,000/Month
  • Community Press Ad – Total Reach of Approx. 18,553 Belleville Households

Ways to improve

There are many other ways for municipalities to engage their residents. For example, many other municipalities have dedicated community engagement software such as EngagementHQ, which can send notifications residents about opportunities to engage. It collects and presents feedback all in a single, dedicated place.

There is demand for something like this in Belleville. Here are a few responses to the question: “What suggestions do you think may enhance
the City’s level of public engagement relating to annual budget?” in the 2024 Operating Budget – Public Engagement Report, the following responses were submitted:

Clear propositions and budgets placed on the City of Belleville website that are actually easy to find and well laid out (including examples of what each category of budget includes)

More information available online would help those interested.

Times available for public meetings and more notification about what and where things are happening

Be transparent, and keep the public in the loop about any big planned investments, including budgets
for them, and a reconciliation of the budget to actual on a monthly basis. Publish the information on the
website and in the newspaper

Dedicated webpages for community participation and a Community committee

An easily navigable web portal giving detailed spending breakdowns.

The city should be taking greater weight of opinion from community organizations filling the gap in social welfare spending (housing, homelessness, food security) and less weight on the opinions of police services board, chamber of commerce, business advocacy orgs, landlords, and the pet projects of affluent property owners. People are more likely to engage their municipal democracy if they feel the administration actually listens to the views of the majority of citizens, rather than the views of a small priveleged [sic] group of citizens.

Increased integrity at all government levels will help to re-establish trust an engagement from the constituency. As of now, there is little faith in council to listen to citizens and their ideas, largely due to actions from the last-term council and mayor, which was rife with in-fighting and integrity issues. I believe that increased transparency in municipal processes, reduction in “pass the buck politics” (ie. housing is the problem of the feds or province, not ours mentality), and better engagement on social media platforms would help increase municipal engagement

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