by Colin Smith
Residents and community groups interacting with the Town of Morinville should find their way made easier following the adoption of an updated public engagement policy at the November 9 council meeting.
According to a policy addition proposed by Councillor Jenn Anheliger, the Town of Morinville will provide reasonable support to enable meaningful engagement and develop plans which respond to identified barriers.
“I think there is a bit of an issue in terms of the supports residents and community groups receive in order to engage with council and administration,” Anheliger said, adding that she would like that addressed in the policy.
Councillor Scott Richardson expressed his support for the addition.
“Being a part of various groups and organizations I know that they struggle to have meaningful conversations with administration,” he said.
The amendment passed unanimously.
Other amendments to the policy, passed in May 2018, include a change put forward by Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe to clarify the wording of Section 2D, emphasizing that while public participation is a legislative and civic responsibility of council and administration, it is a civic responsibility only of other members of the community.
Another amendment by Dafoe will require the administration to provide an update midway through Council’s term on the effectiveness and implementation of the public engagement policy in achieving public participation.
Public engagement policies are mandated for municipalities by Alberta’s Municipal Government Act. Section 216.1 of the Act sets out requirements for these policies.
These include that the policies must be publicly available and must identify how municipalities will approach public participation and engagement.
Policies must also identify the types or categories of approaches the municipality will use to engage stakeholders and the types or categories of circumstances in which the municipality will engage stakeholders.