By Jennifer Hoegg
When the topic of public engagement came up at a Kentville meeting Nov. 13, Deputy Mayor Mark Pearl suggested a technological solution.
Chief administrative officer Mark Phillips reported to the town’s council advisory committee on a discussion at a recent meeting of the Association of Municipal Administrators about “how to get (the public) in this room. How to get them engaged.”
One idea, was to make traditional advertising of town meetings “flashy,” Phillips said.
“How we advertise those might catch somebody’s eye,” he said. “Whether ‘have your say’ or ‘things will change’ - whatever the message is.”
Kings County council has better engagement “for some good reasons and probably for some reasons that aren’t so good,” Pearl said.
“But, over here, we don’t seem to have the engaged public and I think council works at its best when we have people in chambers to watch council in action.”
Pearl asked suggested that if the public isn’t coming to council meetings, councillors could “go to the public” instead via webcasting meetings on the Internet.
“If we can somehow reach out, maybe engage a little more. Maybe that would be a positive first step.”
Phillips said live streaming meetings would be possible and the topic could be explored at a future strategy session.
“You folks need to have the discussion if whether you want to take it to the public,” Phillips said. “From a technology point of view I would say it’s doable, but not without a cost.”
Coun. Eric Bolland brought up the idea of advertising council meetings on the town’s new, electronic sign at Memorial Park.
He also brought up the idea of holding a special meeting to build public interest.
“Maybe once a year we have a public town hall meeting over at the fire hall,” Bolland suggested.