Communication plan introduced to Nanaimo city council

NANAIMO – Strategy expected to be adopted in April

The first draft of the city’s new corporate communication plan was presented for the first time Monday after months of public consultation and a series of meetings between civic leaders, staff, council and communications manager Philip Cooper.

Cooper was hired last summer by city hall to establish a communications strategy that met the criteria for responsible government, a priority in the city’s corporate strategic plan.

In the draft, Cooper identifies current communication practices employed by the city that have been working, as well as initiatives he intends to introduce to improve the flow of information from city hall to residents and businesses.

“In Nanaimo, because they haven’t had the communication manager role, they’ve been able to develop a lot of the consciousness that’s needed to be successful and they’ve been working around getting the message out and doing it in a way that’s timely and responsive. The down side to that approach is you don’t necessarily have a broader lens that’s corporately orientated. So you have a lot of departments putting out their message, but you don’t have any way to cast a larger picture.”

While city communication has been improving over the past five years, Cooper added that the new plan will reduce inconsistencies, allow good practices to be adopted to other departments, and generate a strong culture of communication between the city and taxpayers.

The four goals of the plan includes communicating with citizens in a meaningful way; recognizing community interests and respond quickly with accurate information; boosting participation in local government and the public process; and develop relationships that bridge differences and foster dialogue.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said the plan mirrors what council had been expecting when it approved the communications manager position last year.

“I think this plan is exactly what I had in mind, though I can’t speak for all of council,” said Ruttan. “I think you really need to learn a great deal about the community before you can step and and say ‘OK, I’m the spokesman,’ and I think Philip has done a very good job. One of the things I think we’ve been derelict in doing is communicating with the taxpayers of Nanaimo and this plan addresses that concern. Instead of being reactive, this shows how we can be proactive.”

The draft now moves back into the public realm for feedback opportunities during March before it goes before council in April for adoption. If adopted, it will run parallel with the Corporate Strategic Plan and will be reviewed annually.

Public feedback is welcome by e-mailing communicationplanning@nanaimo.ca.

To view the draft in its entirety, visit www.nanaimo.ca.