April 27 Deep Dive in Victoria: Tanya Twynstra and the “BC Government’s Engagement Story since 2012”
About 20 people turned out to hear about some of the approaches and lessons-learned as the BC government made a greater commitment to P2. Tanya Twynstra, the province’s Director, Citizen Engagement, described how government engagement websites have received 2.5 million visits in the past five years and that face-to-face sessions like town halls and community meetings have attracted 25,000 participants.
Some of the issues addressed included distracted driving, changes in liquor laws, the 10-year Transportation Plan and the BC Education Plan; the BC Jobs Plan engagement site brought in 286,000 visits, more than three-times that of the next-highest site – the site for liquor-law changes.
Some of the take-aways:
BC Chapter vice-president Lisa Moilanen noted that it takes strong leadership from the top down to create the internal cultural changes necessary to make meaningful P2 happen. There has to be clarity so everyone follows the same processes. There also has to be time spent on the initial discussion and conversations about engagement to ensure the purpose and goals are clear.
Gordon Hardwick of PlaceSpeak recognized that getting the Word Out about consultations can be difficult and that Market Research is not Public Engagement
and Mike Waters, IAP2 Canada Board member, was struck by the many forms P2 can take – and the way the BC government has used them. Also, specialized technology like social media doesn’t always capture the added value of interacting with people face-to-face. He was also impressed with the fact that Premier Christy Clark herself takes to Skype to contact people who have given input to thank them for their story. It’s an important reminder of the importance of closing the loop and acknowledging stakeholders for their contribution.
April 27 Deep Dive in Vancouver: “Evaluating P2 Processes”
On the same evening, Susanna Haas Lyons brought her considerable expertise on evaluation to the Vancouver Deep Dive.
Some key points stood out. Daniella Fergusson noted:
- There are barriers to evaluation, such as lack of time and/or resources.
- Don’t be afraid to “fail safely”. Evaluation is part of the learning process for what works and doesn’t work for engagement.
- Plan ahead for evaluation! Evaluation needs to be useful, so plan ahead for what you want to measure and how it can be measured (and who the evaluation is for).
- Evaluation can look at the process and also the outcome.
Anthea Brown was also taken by the expression “Fail Safely”. Evaluation, Anthea says, is a malleable process, which can be tweaked for the best outcomes.