Hamilton’s Public Engagement Committee, Charter, Policy & Toolkit

Header for the Public Engagement Charter

In April 2015, City Council endorsed Hamilton’s Engagement Charter.  The Charter was created by Hamilton’s Engagement Committee as part of the pre-work to the City’s 25-year community visioning process, Our Future Hamilton. 

Hamilton’s Engagement Committee (HEC)

Hamilton’s Engagement Committee (HEC) was a temporary volunteer committee of local residents, established by the City of Hamilton in the spring of 2014, that were asked to partner with City staff to give advice about how to best involve the residents of Hamilton in City Council decisions.

Hamilton’s Public Engagement Charter

The Public Engagement Charter, created by HEC, outlines the key elements required to involve residents in decisions made at the City of Hamilton. The Charter was created to address:

  • Unclear purpose, meaning and value of engagement across the City
  • Varying expectations and perceptions about public engagement and the role of residents
  • Uncertainty with regard to the City’s approach to public engagement

The Charter set forth core principles around public engagement and adopted the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Spectrum of Public Participation as the preferred framework to guide all future engagement activities.    

Subsequent to the endorsement of the Charter, staff were directed by City Council to develop a supporting Public Engagement Policy and Toolkit.

Public Engagement Policy & Toolkit

The City of Hamilton Public Engagement Policy aligns with and supports the Public Engagement Charter.  The purpose of the Public Engagement Policy is to strengthen and improve the City’s ability to consistently undertake appropriate, coordinated, transparent, inclusive, evidence-based public engagement practices.  This in turn, enables the public to become more involved in decisions that impact them and their community. 

The Public Engagement Policy applies to:

  • All City of Hamilton Departments and staff; and
  • All initiatives/projects that may have an impact on the public, including mandated public engagement requirements.

The Public Engagement Toolkit (v1) is intended to help staff think proactively, reflectively and consistently about when and how they engage with the public. To ensure that public engagement continuously improves in the City of Hamilton a Community of Practice will be utilized to:

  • Support and educate staff
  • Share engagement experiences and discuss best practices
  • monitor and evaluate public engagement activities
  • Add/revise tools as required including:
    • Improvements to Version 1 tools
    • Engagement checklists for various tactics
    • Frequent experiences & what to do (i.e. FAQ)
    • Diversity & Inclusion Handbook

Core Principles of Public Engagement

The Charter includes the principles and beliefs that should happen in public engagement.  These principles set the tone and direction for successful engagement:

Being transparent means that:

  • decisions are made after wide-spread consultation and discussions with residents
  • residents have access to public records
  • residents have access to information in a variety of ways so they can be involved in decision making and outcomes
  • elected officials and City staff clearly describe and publicly share how and why decisions are made

Trust becomes stronger when residents are given opportunities early and throughout, to be actively involved in their city on an ongoing basis.

Effective engagement occurs when residents, elected representatives, City staff:

  • are responsible for their actions, decisions and roles
  • have a mutual understanding that everyone has an important role
  • actively participate in discussions that result in positive action
  • see that their feedback and input is used and has helped direct the decisions made

Inclusion and diversity is supported and strengthened by:

  • creating opportunities for residents from different backgrounds to work together through the use of appropriate engagement methods and tools
  • recognizing and eliminating barriers to ensure participation is inclusive, diverse and balanced

Collaboration that is inclusive and diverse will enable the successful achievement of goals.

Active participation in decision making happens by:

  • providing opportunities for ideas to be openly shared
  • seeking, supporting and encouraging all residents to share their ideas
  • asking, listening and responding to one another
  • including Hamilton’s institutions, agencies, service providers, businesses and organizations from across the various private and public service sectors, in the discussions

Lasting and positive change happens by:

  • supporting and strengthening collaboration amongst all stakeholders
  • creating a shared sense of purpose and future direction
  • treating all stakeholders as equal partners

Clear, consistent and effective communication occurs by:

  • providing opportunities for residents to give feedback using different methods and tools
  • encouraging and valuing residents’ ideas
  • recognizing that resident input is a community asset
  • providing timely and relevant information so residents can give input in a meaningful way
  • sharing the outcomes of community engagement discussions

Learning, reflection and evaluation are valued components of public engagement when:

  • opportunities for reflective discussion and feedback are created
  • learning is applied to create new options
  • outcomes are carefully reviewed and regularly evaluated to determine how well the City of Hamilton is engaging with residents and stakeholders

City of Hamilton and community capacity to sustain quality public engagement increases when:

  • information and engagement opportunities enable all people to share their ideas and participate in proactive conversations
  • information is accessible to residents and meet their information needs
  • residents have access to a variety of resources that enable them to fully participate

International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Spectrum of Public Participation (2007)

  Inform Consult Involve Collaborate Empower
Public Participation Goal To provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problem, opportunities and/or solutions. To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives, and/or decisions. To work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered. To partner with the public in each aspect of the decision, including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution. To place final decision-making in the hands of the public.
Promise to the Public We will keep you informed. We will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations, and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision. We will work with you to ensure that your concerns and aspirations are directly reflected in the alternatives developed and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision. We will look to you for advice and innovation in formulating solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible. We will implement what you decide.

Read the full version of the Public Engagement Charter (PDF, 4 MB).
Read the full version of the Public Engagement Policy & Toolkit (PDF, 2.26 MB)

Contact us

John Ariyo
Manager, Community Initiatives
City Manager’s Office
Email john.ariyo@hamilton.ca
Phone 905-546-2424 ext.1564