Customer Success – An official opportunity to provide public input influenced outcome in LaSalle
Democracy is grounded in the trust that public feedback influences government decisions and policies. The feedback loop suggests that data obtained from public consultations serve to inform deliberation and ultimately influence outcomes.However, today, all too often the outcomes are foregone conclusions and the consultation process has become more of a marketing exercise designed to manufacture consent. If we genuinely want to build trust in our democratic processes, we need to close the feedback loop between public consultation and outcomes where people can see that their representatives are actually reflecting their interests.
One place that has followed this model is the Town of Lasalle, Ontario, which recently used PlaceSpeak in collaboration with an in-person public information centre to gather feedback from the community about the 2023 draft budget. The feedback received was taken into consideration when Council and administration discussed the budget. At the end of the deliberations, Council approved a budget rate that was lower than the rate that was originally presented. This was the first time that LaSalle provided the community with an official opportunity to provide input into the budgeting process.
LaSalle provides an example of how to do it right. How to listen to the people authentically, and represent their will, as is the objective of democracy. Well done, LaSalle!
Another dimension that contributed to this successful consultation was the size and composition of the public response. Since 2019, the town of LaSalle has been engaging with its residents online using PlaceSpeak, for a wide range of topics. As a result, they have been building their base of connected residents who are then notified of future consultations, which is an antidote to the ‘usual suspects’ criticism. Different topics attract different audiences, and the network effect increases participation overall. List of Topics:
- Howard Bouffard Master Drainage Study
- 2023 Draft Budget
- Three Fire Station Model
- Benoit House Museum
- History of LaSalle Celebrating 30 Years
- LaSalle Detroit River Storm Sewer Outfalls Stormwater Master Plan
- LaSalle Small Coast Waterfront Project
- St. Clair Park Improvement Project
- Malden Road Environmental Assessment Update 2019
When consulting it is also critical to know that we are dealing with real people (not bots or trolls) within relevant jurisdictional boundaries. Online proof of residency, as enabled by PlaceSpeak, ensures that the feedback is authentic and privacy protected.
Building on the growth of the user network, recruitment for participation continues to become easier as people become accustomed to the PlaceSpeak user interface. In less than a year the PlaceSpeak network in LaSalle has exceeded 750 participants. LaSalle also engages with participants in neighbouring communities in Windsor, Ontario. PlaceSpeak has also been used by other local governments in Essex County (the Town of Tecumseh and Municipality of Lakeshore). The network of connected participants now exceeds 2,400.
Testimonial Using PlaceSpeak has allowed us to expand our engagement with the community. The online platform gives the opportunity to take part at a time that is convenient to the user, and when used in combination with an in-person event, engages a larger audience. We appreciate being able to target our consultations within our municipality or throughout our region. The support from the team at PlaceSpeak has been outstanding.
Dawn Hadre – Director of Strategy and Engagement