Cobourg’s Bang the Table goes Online

Well, they have a better name for it but “Bang the Table” is the name of the software first mentioned by John Henderson in his election campaign a year ago.  It provides for an online forum so that citizens can “Have their Say”.  The idea is that citizens will participate in surveys, provide comments on projects and provide “stories” that they want to share.  There is now a new web site called engagecobourg.ca and there are currently two “projects” up for comment: Waterfront Plan – Campground; Waterfront Plan – East Pier.  In addition, there is “Win a Google Home Mini” which is a competition to encourage people to register. You need to register to participate; if you want to comment or take the survey, you must register.  That requires that you provide your name, postal code and email address although your comments will display under a separate “display name”.

First Look

Proposal for East Pier
Proposal for East Pier

The site opens quickly and is straightforward to navigate although when I tried it, there are a few bugs in using the site.  However, with persistence you can register and participate (see link below).

The image above right is from the Waterfront Study – but first the pier needs to be fixed.

Each project includes a description, related documents, a timeline and the names and contact information of involved councillors and staff – these are called “listeners”.  Then you have two or three options:

  1. Take a survey (East pier project only)
  2. Participate in a Forum where you can discuss the project and make suggestions,  These are in the form of comments, much like Cobourg News Blog.
  3. Share “a fond memory” that you’d like the Town to know about.

 Although the two current projects are separate, the time lines and names of “listeners” are identical.

East Pier and Campground projects

Time lines

August 12 2019 Public Engagement Begins Online
September 12 2019 Open House CCC 6:00 to 8:00 pm
September 23 2019 Survey, Forum and Story Feedback Modules Close 4:00pm
September 24 2019 Feedback from Open House Being Reviewed  
October 03 2019 Staff Report Submitted to Council  
October 15 2019 Council Discussion C.O.W. Council Meeting
October 21 2019 Council Decision Regular Council Meeting

The process/timelines above are per direction from Council at a regular Council meeting on July 2 as reported here.

Who’s listening

Staff Councillors
Teresa Behan
Deputy Director of Community Services
Phone 905-372-7371
Email tbehan@cobourg.ca
Councillor Emily Chorley
Coordinator of Parks & Recreation
Email echorley@cobourg.ca   
Dean Hustwick
Director of Community Services
Phone 905-372-7371
Email dhustwick@cobourg.ca  
Councillor Brian Darling
Coordinator of Public Works
Email bdarling@cobourg.ca  
Laurie Wills
Director of Public Works
Phone 905-372-9971
Email lwills@cobourg.ca
 

Up till now, the discussion was mostly about the East Pier but because of interaction between the Pier and the Campground, both are being considered together.

Summary

The Town has now added an official online feedback forum and the first issues to be discussed are the East Pier and adjacent Campground.  Hopefully the “listeners” will not only listen but also respond and reply to the comments.

Links

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Durka

The moderation system is a little ridiculous. Comments just sit there waiting for approval for hours. I understand why such as system needs to be in place but it must be checked regularly or people, such as myself, are just going to get frustrated.

Miriam Mutton

The Ontario EBR commenting process is like that, a moderated delay (sometimes in days) for approval of submitted invited comments. However, my reply post on the EngageCobourg platform on the east pier was posted immediately. But, two of the menu headers on home page are denied access to me even when signed in. One deemed a private site without an explanation. Maybe it is the ‘listener’ access portal and a short explanation on the page would be helpful. The other non-operative menu item is ‘About Engage Cobourg’, Maybe a broken link. Otherwise, this is an experiment in local public engagement in which I am happy to participate. It has potential but I am glad there will be in person public meeting sessions also.