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AskingCanadians Case Study: Town of Markham – Click with Markham

by Susan O'Neill.

How can a municipal government encourage participation in an online public consultation process?

The Situation

Delvinia has been involved in a partnership with the Town of Markham since 2003 to help the municipality strategically use digital technologies to increase public engagement in government.

In November 2007, when the municipality embarked on a process designed to lay the foundation for its long-term official plan, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti and the Town Council called on our digital strategy and customer experience design team to develop a public engagement strategy.

The objective: to gain input on issues like growth management, transit and transportation, the environment, public safety, diversity and municipal services.

The Solution

To engage the public and gather input on Markham’s strategic direction, Delvinia developed a strategy designed around an innovative online public consultation process called Click with Markham.

The multimedia online experience included a Delvinia-designed website with a video introduction by the Mayor and video segments describing each strategic area of focus. Visitors to the site could answer a series of questions through an interactive survey about proposed plans for each of the priorities; thereby making them part of the democratic decision-making process.

Comprehensive advertising and promotion, including direct mail to all Markham households and a rewards program, encouraged residents and those who work in Markham businesses to participate. The online survey was available in eight languages and the questionnaire was also available in a printed form.

At the time, Click with Markham was the largest interactive municipal survey to be done in Ontario.

The Results

During the three-week campaign, more than 5,000 people visited clickwithmarkham.ca and more than 3,600 individuals filled out the online survey.

The response surpassed the results of any other public consultation program held in Markham or within York Region. And, according to the Town, the feedback confirmed the municipality was moving in the right direction with its action plans.

Recognition

The Town of Markham received the 2008 Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators Willis Innovation Award in recognition of the Click with Markham program. The national award is given annually for programs, projects or services that demonstrate exceptional innovation or meritorious initiative.