“The power of MetroQuest is the ability to get the representation of our population. On some of the surveys, we’ve had over 1,300 respondents. Getting that through just open houses is not possible given the staff resource we have.” – Jeffrey Humble, Director of Planning & Development Services, City of Peterborough
When local planning gained importance with Ontario’s new Bill 139, the City of Peterborough responded with a multi-phase online community engagement approach to update its Official Plan. Metroquest helped:
The City of Peterborough is currently updating its Official Plan with input from the community. This initiative is partly in response to the Province of Ontario’s new Bill 139, the Building Better Communities and Conserving Watersheds Act, which places greater authority in the hands of elected municipal councils and local planning authorities.
City of Peterborough staff are involving residents to redefine the vision and direction to shape the growth and development of the City to the year 2041. By the year 2041, Peterborough is expected to become home to 115,000 people and provide 58,000 jobs, representing an increase of 32,000 people and 14,000 jobs from 2016.
The City of Peterborough is an agency that particularly values public engagement. The City continues to use traditional methods for in-person engagement, including public workshops, stakeholder workshops, speaking appearances, and Committee meetings. “The typical open house, the focus group sessions, and so on are obviously very powerful for getting that qualitative information,” said Jeffrey Humble, Director of Planning & Development Services for City of Peterborough.
A forward-thinking agency, the City of Peterborough also uses more modern engagement methods to capture highly actionable quantitative input. Jeffrey explained that online public engagement was a strategic investment the City made to reach the broader population for their comprehensive plan,
“We are looking for a deep level of public engagement. We found MetroQuest to be one of the tools to give us that depth of engagement. It really helps reach a wide population in terms of getting that input just through the fact that it’s a digital medium.”
The City launched a variety of MetroQuest surveys to confirm the priorities of residents. For the Official Plan, Jeffrey and his team wanted to update the City’s vision, guiding principles, and strategic policies to align with the community’s vision for the future.
“We used MetroQuest for key aspects of our official plans, so our vision and guiding principles … our citywide growth management strategy … and our land use and transportation components. We’re now into a planning component dealing with urban design,” explained Jeffrey.
When engaging the public on complex initiatives like comprehensive planning, it can be challenging to help citizens understand the options and to stimulate participation with long, text-based surveys. By weaving education into a highly visual online engagement experience, MetroQuest was able to attract lots of participants, educate them about the alternatives, and collect informed input.
“The power of MetroQuest is the ability to reach a wide population to get their input on a whole myriad of issues. It really gets the word out on some of the planning components. And it’s not just the ability for us to seek the input from the public, but the ability of us to educate the public on key planning principles that’s valuable.”
Because they are highly visual by design, MetroQuest surveys are easy for citizens to complete in about five minutes. They are also fun to create using the secure MetroQuest Studio platform. “I have great planning staff and they found the software to be very intuitive,” shared Jeffrey. “MetroQuest staff provide that up-front training, and it’s only a matter of hours before we can get the program up and running. Then, basically, we design the surveys with MetroQuest. They go live and the data comes back.”
To date, the City of Peterborough has engaged over 3,825 residents, collected more than 81,190 data points, and captured 8,853 comments to inform the City’s Official Plan. Jeffrey described the value of the public engagement results he’s achieved with MetroQuest,
“On some of the surveys, we’ve had over 1,300 respondents! Getting that through just open houses is not possible given the staff resource we have. So, the value for the dollar is getting that wide population representation. And that’s what’s been most beneficial for us.”
The City of Peterborough is one of hundreds of government agencies to have used MetroQuest surveys to ensure that the public voice is considered in planning better places to live, work, and play. Congratulations Jeffrey to you and your entire team for your outstanding online public engagement results!